Christmas Movie Review: Bad Santa (2003)

Make yourself some sandwiches and check out our review of Bad Santa. This black comedy from 2003 instantly became one of my holiday favorites the first time I watched it. Maybe it was the fact that I was working retail during the holidays at the time, so I found it easy to relate to the frustrated, sarcastic humor of the movie. The acting is top notch, the laughs are plentiful and the soundtrack was used incredibly well with the on-screen action.

Billy Bob Thornton stars as Willie, a sex-addicted alcoholic who performs as a shopping-mall Santa. Tony Cox plays his little elf helper named Marcus. Together they scheme to rob the mall of which they work. However, Willie's behavior begins to draw negative attention from the mall's general manager and head security guard, played by the late John Ritter and Bernie Mac respectively. The two have a number of interactions throughout the film which are both hilarious and heartbreaking, considering that both actors are no longer with us.

Billy Bob Thornton is nothing short of hilarious in this movie. He was also nominated for two Golden Globes including "Best Actor." Equally funny is Brett Kelly who plays Thurman, a sweet but naive kid who is bullied by a group of skateboarders while walking home from school everyday. Through a series of bizarre circumstances, Thurman, who believes Willie is the real Santa, invites Willie back to his home where it is discovered that Thurman only lives with his senile Grandma who quickly offers to make some sandwiches for this stranger who walked in with her grandson.

The movie has a good number of funny sequences, but few of them compare to the interactions between Willie and Thurman. Willie just wants to relax while Thurman wants to know everything there is to know about Santa's life. Thurman's deadpan demeanor towards some of Willie's frustrated outbursts are some of the best moments in this film.

Willie initially takes advantage of Thurman and the situation but gradually forms a mentor-friendship with the kid. After discovering a new found sense of purpose by helping the kid with his bully problem and realizing how good it made him feel to be a better person, Willie starts to regret his life of crime and has second thoughts about performing the heist. However, Marcus and his greedy "mail order bride" girlfriend are intent on making Willie follow through.

Juxtaposed against the crude and vulgar humor of the movie is the soundtrack which primarily uses classical music. Unlike some films which feature unnecessary dance, party or action sequences for the simple sake of promoting terrible new songs, Bad Santa sticks to classical music and classic Christmas tunes. "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year" serves as a sort of "theme song" for Marcus' greedy girlfriend as she scouts the mall for luxury items to put on her "shopping" list. I also don't think I've ever laughed so hard at "Let It Snow." This scene occurs near the beginning of the film and quickly sets the tone for what type of holiday Bad Santa is bringing with him.

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