Bad Santa - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Bad Santa Reviews

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Super Reviewer
August 4, 2010
While there are many quotable lines, and an edgy dark humor that usually gets waylaid with Christmas comedies, a classic this film is not. For all its strangeness and obtuse darkness it's not always all that funny. Our lead character, played by a drunk Billy Bob Thornton, is mean-spirited, heartless, and inappropriate, but the only times this is played for comedic effect is when he is paired with the kid (Kelly). The kid is odd, not all that forthcoming, and true to himself, which is a great balance with Thornton's unappealing sadsack Santa Claus. When they're onscreen the laughs roll in, but otherwise this film is very depressing and meager with its side characters. Marcus (Cox) plays well off Thornton but as his own character he is very one dimensional. Mac makes an interesting villain, but he doesn't get enough screen time. If the story was a little more fleshed out and the characters were a little more interesting this would have been an easy comedy to love.
Super Reviewer
½ February 16, 2014
No this isn't a National Lampoon movie although you could easily be fooled into thinking that with this title. As you might have expected this is a Christmas set film and its about a naughty Santa character. Again you could easily be fooled into thinking this is a silly kids movie with lots of fart gags...but no, its actually a black comedy and most definitely for the grown ups.

The whole point of this film is the ever so slight redemption of the main character played by Thornton. This guy is a low down permanently drunk criminal who drags his way through life whilst robbing department stores with his dwarf partner. The dubious duo take yearly jobs as a department store Santa and his elf worker, this way they get to know the ins and outs of the store so they can easily rob it. Things change for Thornton's character 'Stokes' when he meets a tubby little boy who he kinda befriends and takes a shine to...eventually.

This film is kinda unique in the sense that the main character has many flaws and issues which you tend to think he will sort out at some point by the end of the film. The twist and funny part is he doesn't really change at all, he does a little bit with the help of his little fat young friend, but not too much really, he still ends up as the same bum. The amusing things about the film are the constant little moments where Thornton's character gets angry or frustrated with the fat kid and swears at him. The little fat kid (eerily played by Kelly) seems to be a bit slow and just takes the abuse, in one ear and out the other. At times it can be very funny to watch these outbursts yet at other times you do feel sorry for the kid or Stokes because you know he sometimes doesn't mean it.

The heist aspect of the film is quite good and offers some reasonably tense moments, especially near the end. The various Santa sequences are probably the films highlights as we see Thornton getting sneezed and coughed on by lots of pant wetting scroats. Of course his reactions and the way he treats the kids are the best bits, he basically sneers growls and scowls at them, finally nudging them off his knee and virtually kicking them to the curb. Watching the reactions of the parents is great, as a man pushing 40 and with no kids I love it, if I was a parent I might feel differently I guess who knows.

The darkest sequence must be when a severely pissed Stokes crawls up the escalator towards his Santa grotto. His beard and clothes now filthy stained and damaged, he looks like shit, can hardly walk and promptly falls into a reindeer display. This whole sequence starts out funny but descends into a more cringeworthy incident as he freaks out and starts to smash up the Xmas display in front of everyone in the store, its still amusing but also poignant and depressing...much like the plot as a whole really.

The finale was a tad of a let down for me, it does seem like you're gonna get the predictable ending where Stokes will die trying to achieve a small slice of decency in his life, the right ending. A bit like the finale in 'The Wrestler' where Rourke's character goes out doing what he loves but also reclaiming a small part of his dignity right at the end. Even though this ending is predictable as I said, I think it would have been stronger for obvious reasons. Instead Stokes lives on and we get some mumbo jumbo about how he survived and what he plans to do after he heals up. This simply feels like an open ending so they can roll out a sequel which this film really doesn't need in my opinion, if it happens that is. I think it should have wrapped up there and then.

All in all I like how this is basically an anti-Christmas flick which sticks two fingers up at the sweet yuletide greetings side of it and embraces the Scrooge side with extreme profanity. Its not exactly original in idea, the drunk rude Santa schtick has been done before but you can't deny its amusing. Crude rude edgy and drenched in cynicism...but there is a soft warm heart buried deep in there and it just about manages to shine through in the end.
Super Reviewer
½ January 16, 2008
Pretty damn funny. Always get a laugh out of this. You can keep the cheesy Xmas movies.
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2012
Billy Bob Thornton makes sure this dark comedy isn't a completely useless movie, but the film is so utterly devoid of any charm that it is hard to love. The comedy mainly relies on Thornton's niche for foul mouthing and really nothing more. It is not awful, but it only squeezed a few laughs out of me.
Jack Hawkins
Super Reviewer
½ December 23, 2011
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, who is a 'little person', exploits his miniature frame to hide in malls after opening hours, hastily cancelling the security system so Bad Santa can waltz in and get to work on the safe.

I found myself laughing on many occasions, thanks to contributions from almost all the cast, especially Bernie Mac. The humour was tainted however by the language, which soon became gratuitous and puerile. Those two adjectives also describe Willie, his bad boy persona is exaggerated in many parts of the film; Willie will often needlessly erupt with a foul-mouthed tirades that soon become tiresome. I'm a fan of 'Goodfellas' and 'Scarface'; yet, oddly enough, I didn't find them gratuitous like 'Bad Santa'.

Apart from this, I'd recommend Bad Santa. It's an entertaining, politically incorrect and ultimately 'feel-good' film that puts a twist on the Christmas movie genre conventions. I think its dark humour will especially go down a treat with mid-teens who aren't getting that always nauseating 'Christmas feeling'.
Directors Cat
Super Reviewer
December 26, 2011
Not as grinchy and evil as I had hoped. The plot of Bad Santa is all over the place and sometimes the edginess is lost by dramatic changes to it's story. It didn't score an outrageous number of laughs but Thornton and Mac really shine.
Super Reviewer
½ June 13, 2006
Certainly one of the most ruthless and least politically correct films ever made about Santa. It's a joy how BB Thornton stabs every stereotype of the kind and lovable Santa impersonator imaginable way beyond the point where other films already take a turn towards the "redemption of the stone-hearted" direction. Of course we get that here too, but only with gritted teeth and tongue in cheek. And the meaner a film and its protagonist is, the more meaning his little gestures of kindness get in the end. But before that, you're just having a lot of good laughs with the farting, cursing and fucking bad Santa. Disgusting, mean, yet heart-warming and fun. A combination you just don't get often enough.
Super Reviewer
November 15, 2011
Though not as memorable as Christmas Vacation, Bad Santa is still a very funny comedy with plenty of laughs. Billy Bob Thornton gives one of his best comedic performances here. Bad Santa is a well made comedy that is one of the essential must see viewings for the Christmas season. Bad Santa is funny, but at times uneven. Bad Santa is a totally different Christmas film. The film is good and is definitely one of Thornton's best comedic performances. There are plenty of memorable moments in this film, and some are downright hilarious. One thing is for sure, this film is not your average Christmas film, and it's quite wonderful. Those expecting a fun, family oriented Holiday film; you aren't not going to find it here. The film is not your standard holiday film. Still, Bad Santa despite the fact it's not a perfect film, is a good, entertaining and funny film for the holiday season. This is one of the few holiday films that do something new and refreshing. The jokes are good and Bad Santa is simply an entertaining film that is memorable, funny and guarantees a good time. Billy Bob Thornton is good here, and this one of last actually good comedic performances. After this film, he basically replayed the same character, and he became dull. A good comedy for the holiday season, one that belongs in a category of its own because it's quite different. A very enjoyable film and is one of the best Christmas holiday films. But it's no Christmas Vacation.
Super Reviewer
October 29, 2011
very very slacky, yet it accomplishes the objective to entertain, Billy's character gives him the opportunity to shine brighter than a christmas tree.
Super Reviewer
May 2, 2011
Nasty Santa. Damn I hate it.
Super Reviewer
August 25, 2011
On the surface of it this film looks like just another superficial holiday comedy but under the first few layers and within the first half an hour or so, you begin to realise that although it is side splittingly funny at times it is also a dark and sad tale of a man with literally nothing left to lose. Great one lines, Thorton is on fire as Santa gone wrong and with a depressing depth, Bad Santa really is one of the greats.
Super Reviewer
March 1, 2011
Funniest christmas movie since Elf. Billy Bob Thorton and the rest were perfect in their roles. The plot was surprisingly interesting, even if cliche and gross sometimes. This movie is sick and twisted, and I loved it.
Super Reviewer
September 25, 2010
Bad Santa, even without it's dialogue scenes is pure hilarity. It is a pretty basic story of a drunken man acting as Santa with many problems, but overall, it is an extremely hilarious film. With comedy, heart, and a hint of raunchiness, it is one of the most satisfying christmas films in the last decade, seeing as there are very few to choose from. The only thing that sucks, is the fact that the movie had to have a hard R rating. It is certainly not a movie for kids, but adults and teenagers who like to have a vulgar laugh at films like this, they will love it. It's not really what I expected, it's actually better!
Super Reviewer
½ November 30, 2010
Number 14 is Bad Santa, you will not find a dirtier Christmas move out there, Shooting guns at the Nativity that's a little much don't you think. I wouldn't show this to any children or anyone under 16 anyway, after that age there exposed to it in public school anyway. 1 1/2 stars
Super Reviewer
½ October 16, 2010
Just a great movie that never seems to get old, the comedy still works just as well as it did when I saw it the first time. Billy Bob Thorton's performance is easily one of the best and most memorable comedic characters. He's so pathetic and revolting, but you're always on his side 100% and never doubt that he is the greatest Con-man Santa to ever sit in a mall. Some of the little things are what make it such a classic, like the answering machine rampage, fried bologna sandwiches and the bloody elephant.
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2006
This is one of my favorite holiday films. It's a lot more crude and mean spirited than basically all of them, but the performances are fucking brilliant, and the script is just great, This movie successfully balances out the vulgarity with lots of heart, genuine feelings, and nicely done character development.

Willie is the last guy you'd want as a Santa, and he's the most unlikely person to turn his life around, but leave it up to a goofy but well-meaning kid, his shifty vertically challenged companion, and an attractive woman with an interesting fetish to change all that.

Terry Zwigoff is awesome, and I respect this movie a great deal (for a lot fo reasons), but especially since the Coen Bros. produced it. This is definitely an adult CHristmas movie, but it has some actual substance, and you really grow to care about the characters, no matter how twisted things are.

Billy Bob Thornton has given some excellent performances in his career, and this ranks up there pretty high on that list. Lauren Graham is awesome, Brett Kelly is fun, Tony Cox is really good, and it's nice to see Bernie Mac and John Ritter put in some good work too, especially since this was Ritter's final film.

Give this one a chance if you haven't seen it yet. I may just surprise you with how good and touching it is.
Super Reviewer
½ March 14, 2010
"It's Christmas and the kid's gettin' his fuckin' present."

A miserable conman and his partner pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid, and the security boss discovers the plot.

Pitch black comedy from filmmaker Terry Zwigoff and the Coen Brothers (who came up with the idea and produced) about a malcontent career criminal and alcoholic whose yearly scam as a department store Santa Claus with his partner as his 'helper' (Thornton and Cox making for a merry motley pair) faces a few unsuspecting set-backs including the milquetoast mall manager (Ritter in one of his last onscreen appearances); the store dick (Mac) and a heavyset adolescent (Kelly) who thinks Thornton is the real Kris Kringle. Frequently uproariously funny with a sappy undercoating makes for a bit of naughty and nice with all the appeal of curdled egg nog. Thornton is a riot as the foul talking loser and the film sets the right tone of outrageous raw behavior that makes the most of a sacred cow led to slaughter.
Super Reviewer
January 30, 2010
Gross film.
Super Reviewer
September 14, 2007
very funny and brilliant acting in this comedy!
nothing like a grumpy santa claus a fat kid and a dwarf tha is so amusing!
really worth a watch!
Super Reviewer
½ December 24, 2009
A one joke film played out fantastically. The performances allow you to ignore the fact that you are just laughing at someone swearing. Thornton's quips are so hurtful and cruel, they really go against the Christmas spirit. Luckily the film does bring about a rather wonderful Christmas message without becoming too sentimental. The young Brett Kelly steals the show. A beautifully simplistic performance that allows you to feel for The Kid as well as understand Thornton's anger. A little bit different and a little bit awesome.
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