Bad Santa – A Retrospective

[Editor’s Note: I did a trash movie last week. Lets give a true classic some love.]

Cut to winter of 2003. I was going to the movies a ton back then. I had seen the posters for this. Maybe even a trailer. Possibly TV spots. I cannot remember. But I remember my thinking on it.

Hard pass.

I feel like there were a bunch of those kind of “oh someone’s being badddd” kind of movies around. I was into being pretentious. But the wrong type of pretentious. For example, I didn’t even look at the director.

A HUGE movie nerd friend of mine saw it because he was Terry Zwigoff completionist (not that hard to do, plus Ghost World had just come out recently to that time).

He called me up right as he was walking out. Said something that became our standard for the kinds of movies we would recommend to each other.

“It’s the kind of movie we would have made if we had the money.”

Done. Sold. All I needed to hear. A few of my college friends came along and we all went to the show. I was always kind of worried recommending a movie. I really shouldn’t have been. EVERYONE was sold from the first minute.

Oh how do I love this goddamn movie. Let me count the ways.

First, that script is chaos incarnate. Holy shit it just cuts loose on the insanity. It most definitely is not that “oh someone is being baaaddd” script. In fact, they should have got a better title than Bad Santa, but it is what it is. Can’t argue with perfection.

Also, Ill say, I think the problem with those movies is what works here. It doesn’t go far enough. This movie definitely goes far enough. Billy Bob’s Santa at one point is in the middle of committing suicide and basically doesn’t so he can beat up a kids bully.

I’m getting ahead of myself. The performances. Hell, lets skip Billy Bob cause he is doing a variation on the Billy Bob role and it totally works. Ill even skip Tony Cox who is the actual acting weight behind the movie. Lets jump to the two best performances in the movie.

Bernie Mac and John Ritter

The line reads. The face. I mean this is fucking comedy WORK. I love that fucking expression so much I gif’d it. Got damn I WISH both these giants lived longer to do more work together. Amazing shit.

Like that one scene became a regular quotable. “Well Sure, Santa fuckin someone in the ass…” *COUGH*


That movie friend I mentioned above. Once I saw it, he told me that he wished he would have thought of the eating oranges (or metamucil later in the movie) as the recurring bit for a character.

Everyone does their damndest, but this movie only makes me want more. More from these chracters. More from these actors.

The story itself is as fucking dark as you want it to be. But you are sort of in on the whole ride. It doesn’t alienate. The first half is carried by a sense of wonder. How far can this Santa character defile himself? The answer is way further than you think, often, and in ways you flat out didn’t think of before. Or as Tony Cox’s character puts it…

What carries it in the second half is one of the weirdest fucking redemption arc’s in the history of the hero’s journey. I mean look at this shit.

Amazing. Glorious.

The movie ends with the perfect resolution of our main character learning how to be just enough of a better person to live a touch cleaner.

It is a debauchery with a heart of gold.

Previously, Scrooged was my go to Christmas Black Comedy. I mean I still watch it. But this movie. This is a champion. Ill even watch it out of season cause it is just that good.

One last thought, I think much has been said of what you can’t do in comedy today. I personally think you can do everything you want, you just have to be smart about it. This is a smart trip into a land of liquor, assholes, and anal. Great shit.

4/4 – If you haven’t seen it. You fucking should. You are missing out on something that should be in regular rotation for you every christmas. Either that, or you won’t shit right for a week.

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