At a time when the woods of Holly have become so tidy and moral homilies are sewn into the fabric of every sugarcoated storyline, Bad Santa arrives like Satan's son at a celibate's frat party.

Willie T Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) is a foul-mouthed, child-hating, alcoholic safe cracker, who, with his 3ft tall black midget sidekick Marcus (Tony Cox), takes the Santa franchise at the biggest store in town - any town, as long as it's far enough away from last year's - where the moms are neat and the kids overweight. After verbally abusing the innocent ones with four-letter expletives and a dismissive attitude towards the magic of Christ's birth, Willie and Marcus stay behind after lights out and relieve the safe of its precious greenery.

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The anarchic nature of this dark comedy is the perfect antidote to family friendly Christmas movies, starring Tim Allen, now that Macaulay Culkin has learnt to shave. For those who shudder at the sound of sleigh bells and climb the wall to the cacophony of kerbside carols, Willie is the true face of humbug in a world where snowflakes are plastic and fairy lights flicker ad infinitum.

The dialogue is barbed with razor sharp putdowns and the performances balance on the brink of farce. Thornton takes Willie to a point where nasty social habits turn sour and sympathy begins to leak through the insults.

Bad Santa is tough. After the satirical shock of a kick up the jacksie for those good cheer merchants who cash in on Yuletide generosity, the concept of a thoroughly disreputable false-bearded drunk, masquerading as every child's secret friend, is funny like sick.

Reviewed on: 06 Nov 2004
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A foul-mouthed, child-hating, alcoholic safe-cracker dons a false beard for the in-store day job.
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Director: Terry Zwigoff

Writer: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Brett Kelly, Lauren Graham, Lauren Tom, Bernie Mac, John Ritter, Ajay Naidu, Lorna Scott, Harrison Bieker, Alex Borstein

Year: 2003

Runtime: 91 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US/Germany


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