Tuesday 18th January 2022

Bad Santa (15)
Directed by: Terry Zwigoff
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz
Bad Santa and his partner in crime
Bad Santa and his partner in crime

For those of you who have seen the trailer for Billy Bob Thornton's latest vehicle, you probably think that Bad Santa is the generic festive tale of a drunken dropout who becomes a good guy again with the help of a Father Christmas suit and some angelic children – a wonderful family film. That's certainly what I thought, but the 15 certificate of the film should have prepared me for the barrage of bad language, violence and strong sexual references that are so prominent in this film.

The phrase "gloriously misleading advertising campaign" springs to mind, so please be careful about taking kids to see this one. However, if you're a fan of juvenile humour and quirky movies like me, then read on.

Bad Santa is indeed about a washed up, alcoholic man of questionable ethics (Billy Bob Thornton) who was taught by his father to crack safes. He teams up with a midget and together they get gig as Santa and his helper each Christmas, and then rob the department store they work for on Christmas Eve. More than this though, Thornton's character continually surprises the audience by sinking to new lows throughout the film, revealing himself as a truly despicable miscreant who struggles to redeem himself by the end of the movie – which is the whole point. This film isn't necessarily about happy endings and Christmas cheer, it's an unusual movie that represents how hard it is to really change.

Although directed by Terry Zwigoff (Ghost World), this movie has more than a touch of the Coen brothers about it, who are credited as executive producers, and if you're a fan of their work, I would recommend you see this one. Otherwise, if the adult themes in this film aren't going to offend you and you're intrigued by the paradoxical story and setting then it's also worth a shot. It is unusual at least...

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Length: 91 minutes
Certificate: 15
Official Site:
IMDB Link:
Release Date: 5th November 2004

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