A surprisingly funny alternative Christmas film.
This narratively clichéd yet entertaining alternative Christmas film is one definitely worth seeing if you’re sick of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. Billy Bob Thornton stars as Willie, a safe-cracking crook who masquerades as Father Christmas every December in shopping malls across the United States. His token elf accomplice Marcus (Tony Cox), who is a ‘little person’, exploits his miniature frame to hide in the malls after opening hours, hastily cancelling the security system so Bad Santa can waltz in and get to work on the safe. Their set-up is working smoothly, however things begin to change when Willie befriends and pities a young boy and a security boss begins to hone in on their activities.
I found myself laughing on many occasions thanks to contributions from almost all the cast, especially Bernie Mac. However, the humour was tainted by the language, which soon became gratuitous and puerile. Those two adjectives also describe Willie; his bad boy persona becomes tiresome, especially his regular witless, foul-mouthed tirades.
The development of the relationship between Willie and Thurman, who is a rotund and endearingly oblivious child, is predictable but undeniably nice to watch. The boy is so pathetic, and I mean that in the true sense of the word, that you can’t help but wish him well.
Apart from the sometimes grating dialogue, I’d recommend Bad Santa. It’s an entertaining and politically incorrect film that puts a twist on the Christmas movie genre conventions. I think its irreverence and dark humour will be especially agreeable with those who resent the Christmas period.