2003
Rated: R for drug use, alcohol use, strong sexual content and violence.
Genre: Comedy
Directed By: Terry Zwigoff
Running Time: 1:33
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 3/06/05
DVD Features:
Featurettes - 1. Outtakes and Bloopers
2. Deleted Scenes
If you like this, try: The Ref, About a Boy
BAD SANTA

 


Willie: Why don't you wish in one hand, and shit in the other. See which one fills up first.

"Bad Santa" was quite a trip for Disney who funded the project under the Dimension films moniker completely unaware to what level of an adult comedy this was, of course that's what film dailies, and test pre-screenings are for, but hey, we're not all high paid studio execs, and it don't take much of a genius to know this isn't a family comedy by the script. Regardless, the film was toned down and nearly bagged and shelved before it was released to a pretty good box-office performance and good reviews; you can check the more graphic film on the DVD release of "Bad-DER Santa".

Disney hated it because they thought it slurred the character of Santa Claus; Santa has yet to comment on his portrayal, but regardless if you're the big company like Disney is, than you should be aware of what type of movie you're releasing, especially something like "Bad Santa". Not to say I wasn't happy that we didn't get another sappy cheesy holiday flick; obviously it's what Disney wanted, but hey, the reaction to this film upon its release spoke for itself.

"Bad Santa" is crude, disgusting, violent, graphic, and has a lot of unsuitable content I wouldn't recommend for a family out on Christmas, but it's a great piece of filmmaking by acclaimed "Ghost World" director Terry Zwigoff, and there is a lot to like in this excellent character study, especially the two main characters Thurman and Willie, both are opposites in every form of the word, though their dichotomous relationship becomes something to watch with the highest regard. The kid is unflinching in his optimism and love for Santa and he's so pure he takes all of Thorton's character's abuse without a single impure emotion or thought and through him, Thorton's character becomes purer and slowly wears down in his sensibility towards children and life in general.

The kid makes him better in human nature and in spirit. He screams, yells, uses all forms of the word "fuck", breaks his stuff and the child continues in his innocence towards him with a smile because perhaps he sees something in him he never saw in himself. They manage to reciprocate in their nature as the child teaches Thorton something about being human, and Thorton gives the kid a guardian angel of a sorts; albeit a rather rough and tumble angel, but still he manages to become his father figure. Don't get me wrong though, there's not a warm fuzzy bone in this films body with swearing, strong sex scenes, and every form of a of gratuitous violence, but you have to appreciate its intentions and its characters, and what the writers are trying to pull off in its story through its characters and "Grinch"- esque story.

Thorton gives a great performance here as the gruff character Willie, you just love to hate, but also know has some form of humanity within him; it just takes a lot of time for the audience to actually see it. The small gestures are the things that signal to the audience Willie's evolution as a human being, the small gestures are mere inconveniences to him, but to Thurman they're like a pot of gold, the small things mean a lot to him because they're what he doesn't have and to the audience it's also a big step up for the character of Willy whose personality changes for us on-screen. It's a great aspect the writers accentuate and turn into a big deal for the characters to experience. This is ultimately one of the funniest and well formed character studies and comedies I've seen in a while, and Disney did a disservice by attempting to shelve it. Bad Disney.

If you're looking to depart from the usual sweet and wholesome holiday films and just want a mean-spirited, secular holiday film which spits and kicks the holiday up and down the block, check this out. Well acted, along with a great story, it's worth watching during the Christmas season.

 

 

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