"Yeah kid, Whaddya want?"
Bad Santa
Review by Ross Anthony

Despite the fact that children wrap around this production like Christmas tree lights, make no mistake, this is NOT a children's film. In fact, though Bad Santanecessary, some folks may have ethical problems with kids even being part of such a raunchy, crude, sometimes sexual work. That said, this movie can at times be very funny, and even (in as much as it wants to) a little moving.

The opening ten to twenty minutes are pretty bad, some times plainly awful. After the shock value of a swearing, uncaring, drunken Santa wears off (which is quickly), the film shows hardly any creative effort toward finding something funny in spite of the tremendous opportunity available when kid after kid hops on the lap of bad Santa.

From terrible, the film has a lot of room to grow and thankfully, it does. In ever increasing increments, the picture eventually rounds out nicely without going over the top. In fact, the whole film dons a bright clipping spring at the end of the second act.

It's a good story: down and out, drunkard fake Santa has but one life survival skill -- he can pick safes. He pairs with a fake-elf midget to acquire access to a new mall each Christmas and rob the place blind as they depart. It's seasonal work, but the take isn't so bad.

Billy Bob plays Bad Santa, a guy who doesn't even care about himself, let alone anyone else -- he eventually learns a small Christmas lesson.

For as much as Billy Bob as Bad Santa sometimes struggles for the comedic edge especially earlier on -- Bernie Mac (always funny) and John Ritter tear it up in smaller roles. Though Ritter's TV comedy seldom amused me, here he and Mac are very very funny together.

I suppose you could look at it as a modernized telling of the Scrooge classic -- but be ready for a crapload of bad language, crude references, and a few cheap sexual scenes.

Sometimes plain unfunny, lazy writing/improvising. Sometimes, very sharply scripted, shot and paced, accented with a subtle warm fuzzy mission. Overall, the picture eventually weaseled its way into my favor.

  • Bad Santa. Copyright © 2003. Rated R.
  • Starring Billy Bob Thonton, Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, Brett Kely, Lauren Tom, Ajay Naidu, Alex Borstein, John Ritter, and Bernie Mac.
  • Directed by Terry Zwigoff.
  • Written by Glenn Ficarraand John Requa.
  • Produced by John Cameron, Sarah Aubrey, Bob Weinstein at Dimension/Tritych.

Grade..........................B+ (2.5/4)

Copyright © 1998-2022 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:18:42 PDT