Archive for the ‘Bad Santa’ Category

170 – Bad Santa

July 19, 2004

Not quite as good as I’d hoped it would be. Billy Bob Thornton plays a con man who, with his vertically challenged pal (Tony Cox), plays a department-store Santa for a month out of the year – and then robs the store at Christmas.

Thornton’s Willie isn’t a good guy in any sense of the word. He’s an alcoholic, he cusses like a sailor, he pisses himself, and he’s unshaven. He treats others like dirt, he’s lascivious, he’s perverted. No class act, this one. That is, until one of the little kids in line to see Santa (known only as Kid) strikes some kind of chord with Willie, as little kids in movies are wont to do.

The good news is that it does take a while for the kid to win over Willie. The bad news is that it happens at all – or, at least, that it’s handled rather clumsily. Sure, it’s a comedy, but the Coen brothers were the executive producers. As with Intolerable Cruelty, the brothers simply didn’t know what to do with this film; was it a laugh-out-loud comedy? A feel-good picture? A dark comedy? It could have wound up being any of those, but instead it was all three at different points in the film.

None of the characters was particularly well drawn, but since the focus was on Willie, this isn’t a huge debit. Thornton’s not bad, but Cox easily steals the show from him as his blue-talking partner. There were a few belly laughs in the movie, mostly from Cox’s lines, but by and large this one missed the mark.

Bad Santa: **1/2

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