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Bad Santa

Starring Billy Bob Thornton
Written by Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
Directed by Terry Zwigoff
no website

IN SHORT: Santa in South Park, sorta. Just as rude. Half as funny. [Rated R for Pervasive Language, Strong Sexual Content and Some Violence. 91 minutes]

Well, maybe three quarters as funny. Potty mouthed animated cardboard cutouts are adorable but this is a film featuring "real" people. Using real people blunts the comic illusion that comes with animation. We'll get back to the fact that Bad Santa is almost as funny as it is crude. We're still trying to get our jaw back on its hinges from the number of kidlets that walked into the theater with us. There was a stack of at least 50 booster seats stacked near the entrance of that theater as we walked in. At least 30 of them were in use during the show. We'll say it as concisely as possible: Bad Santa is not for single digit kidlets.

And again: Bad Santa is a film not meant for lower double digit youth either. A "Hard [R]" means just that, though this movie will easily slip into the category of films that fifteen year old (boys) will take pride in sneaking in to. For everyone else, once you get past the first ten minutes, designed to scare anyone dumb enough to ignore the rating out of the theater with kidlets in tow, Bad Santa turns into a rude, crude, funny flick.

For one month of the year Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) works as a department store Santa and manages a working relationship with a three foot tall, 92 pound co-conspirator Marcus (Tony Cox), his Christmas Elf. While in costume, "Santa" is not above smoking, drinking or filling the private regions of oversized and under appreciated ugly women with his pitiful christmas sausage, so to speak. Why store manager Bob Chipeska (John Ritter) hires the alcoholic year after year is beyond us. Actually, it's not. It is the funniest joke in the entire movie so we'll leave that one alone (too). Granted, Bob isn't aware that Willie is a sodomite with lousy personal hygienic habits who does not work and play well with others; maybe Willie has been remarkably discreet. Until now.

When the store closes up shop for the day, its Santa and Elf return. Santa cracks the safe. Elf takes out the rest of the store, with the help of a female co-conspirator (Lauren Tom) who spends the rest of the year with the Elf. And once that's done, Willie's best friend is a bottle, which makes his developing relationship with Sue the bartender (Lauren Graham) all the more under-standable. Sue also ignores the beard and the booze breath and the filthy personal habits because she's has this Santa fantasy for years and doing it with The Hat is something that, uh, this is an R rated movie, you figure it out. Ten years of rip offs down the line, this team has attracted the attention of the new store detective Gin Slagel, (Bernie Mac), as something not quite right. . . perhaps because of the way "Santa" reacted to his adoring 8 year old fan Thurman (Brett Kelly)

And again: Bad Santa is not for single digit kidlets.

Of course, when the police ransack Willie's current abode, it's off to Thurman's house 'cuz it's the safest place to hide out. Thurman is under the care of a senile Grandma (Cloris Leachman), which is a sick enough joke that it counters the "truth" of where dad is. Which is way Up the River. Thurman's innocence, in contrast to Willie's total lack thereof, is why Bad Santa works. At least, for us. We'd tell you more of the story but, honestly, we were laughing too hard to write it down or remember it.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Bad Santa, he would have paid . . .


Not for kids and not for the language-squeamish. The first ten minutes is stuffed with gratuitous language, more to scare parents and single digits out of the theater than anything else. Once the film settles down, it's funny in the aforementioned South Park style and, heck, we enjoyed it. Then again, we have no investment in the myth of Santa Claus so we don't mind anyone screwing with it.

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