Droid defines the Decades best movies – #15 Bad Santa (2003)

bad_santa.2003.de Christmas movies are usually saccharine filled garbage where some selfish twat learns the true meaning of Christmas and becomes a “better” person. Then there’s ‘Bad Santa’, which sees a vile, loathsome, selfish cretin beat up kids, bang fat chicks and piss himself while a line of kids wait to sit on his lap. Needless to say this is my kind of holiday movie.

Willie Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) hates everyone, especially himself. Along with being a safe cracker, he’s an alcoholic, degenerate scumbag. He and his partner Marcus (Tony Cox) run an annual scam. In the lead up to each Christmas, they pose as a department store Santa and his elf, and on Christmas Eve they rob it. Through various turns of events too complicated to explain, he winds up living in the house of a weird kid named Thurman (Brett Kelly), having sex with a bartender with a Santa fetish (Lauren Graham) and being investigated by the Department Store manager (John Ritter) and it’s head of security (Bernie Mac).

Bad Santa 1 There’s no two ways about it. Thornton is absolute genius as Willie. It’s one of those performances where you couldn’t imagine any other actor pulling it off. It’s a virtually impossible role. He’s such a despicable character that our natural instinct is to dislike him. And the film makes no attempt to soften him. He’s constantly drunk, screams at everyone, robs people, and is generally hateful. If this were a person you knew in real life, you’d avoid him at any cost. But as played by Thornton, you find yourself liking him. In a very abstract way, I can relate to him. He’s kind of a no holds barred version of the guy I’d like to be every now and then. Not anywhere near to that extent, and not really the individual as a whole, but definitely some aspects of his personality. He just couldn’t give two shits what anyone thinks. His reactions to annoying situations are priceless. The alarm clock tantrum, the game of checkers with Thurman, and especially his reaction to being approached by a women Bad Santa 3and child when he’s eating his lunch. That’s probably my favourite moment in the film. It’s especially funny because these moments are also truthful. Being the well-adjusted human beings we are, we are doubtful to react to such situations with such venom, but as a fantasy surrogate, Willie’s unhinged outbursts are completely relatable.

Let me just clarify, before you rip in, I don’t want to be Willie. I’d just like to be able to drop the F-Bomb in a foul mouthed tirade when something or someone annoys me, that’s all. Anyway, back to reality.

This film is tinged with a little melancholy, as it features two fine comic actors who are no longer with us. Shortly after filming, John Ritter died of a congenital heart defect and the film is dedicated to him. And in 2008 Bernie Mac died of pneumonia related complications. Watching the film again, you can’t help but feel a little depressed whenever they’re on-screen. Ritter in particular is hilarious when trying to define the label for little people. Special mention must go to Brett Kelly as Thurman. I have no ideaBad Santa 5 what planet this tubby little pod person hails from, but he creates one of the most unique child characters I’ve seen. It’s debatable whether Thurman knows more than he let’s on, but watching him ingratiate himself into Willie’s life, and manipulate him into being some sort of father figure is nothing short of hilarious.

Bad Santa is a departure of sorts for director Terry Zwigoff. Although his other films are technically comedies, they are more dramedies than anything else. None reach anywhere near the absurdist hilarity of this one. His direction shows a deft comic touch Bad Santa 4right from the start, with the opening credits finishing on the image of Santa stumbling out of a bar and spewing in an alley. The writing by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, and an uncredited Joel and Ethan Coen, is brilliant. Like all classic comedies, this one is endlessly quotable. My favourite line is, when a kid tells him what he wants for Christmas, Willie replies “Well wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up first.”

I don’t think this film is for everyone. It’s not for the faint of heart. It doesn’t pull it’s punches, it actually swings for the fence, and fully embraces it’s anarchic character. Willie is such a loathsome character that some will find it difficult to enjoy. But who cares what they think. In a decade of less than memorable comedies, Bad Santa stands out as one of the best.

 Bad Santa 2


#16 – The Hurt Locker (2009)

#17 – Where The Wild Things Are (2009)

#18 – Kingdom of Heaven (2005) Directors Cut

#19 – High Fidelity (2000)

#20 – Friday Night Lights (2004)

#21 – Frequency (2000)


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About Judge Droid

In between refining my procrastination skills I talk a lot of shit about movies and such.

19 responses to “Droid defines the Decades best movies – #15 Bad Santa (2003)”

  1. jarv says :

    Top film- good choice and review.

    So, droid (methinks you protest too much, anyhow) how long precisely have you had a penchant for anal sex with fat women?

    • Droid says :

      How longs a piece of string?

      • jarv says :

        Ha- funny!

        Did you know there’s an uncut version of this?

        It is not hugely different- I think Willy gets a few more rude lines.

        Did you tag this “fuck me santa”?

      • Droid says :

        Tagged. That should get some interesting hits.

        I’ve only seen the Badder Santa version, but I’m aware about the directors cut. Apparently it’s shorter than the theatrical version and doesn’t have scenes like Willie teaching Thurman how to fight. I love that scene. Nothing appeals to my idiotic sense of humour like people getting punched in the nuts.

  2. jarv says :

    Except love actually blows

    • Continentalop says :

      Here here, Barfy. I’m admit Love Actually isn’t the greatest movie, but I’m still a fan of it. It has it’s moments – some being quite sweet – and is far from the horrible movie Jarv makes it out.

    • MORBIUS says :

      Stick to your Guns Barfy, Love Actually deserves a place in your heart (unlike those with ones made of granite), you know this to be true.

    • Toadkillerdog says :

      Barfy, Conti, Wolf, Jarv. I actually have seen love actually. And my wife did not even make me. I watched it on my own – quite proud of that because rom-coms are not usually my cup of Earl Grey. I liked it it. It was sweet. Jarv has a heart of granite

      • Jarv says :

        I’m well prepared to stand by myself with my overwhelming hatred of that turdfest.

        A film made by people I hate with a target market consisting of people I hate (the fact that you lot like it is merely coincidental- it certainly wasn’t intentional), it’s directed by someone I hate and stars actors I hate performing in roles that I hate.

        It’s a fragmented, festering load of shit- a sketch show extended past 2 hours. Look, Hugh Grant plays a dancing Prime Minister who falls in love with the fucking tea lady- isn’t that niiiiiiiiiiiice (pukes in bucket).

        Nobody ever tries to critique it properly- it always gets a pass for being “nice”. Well, I don’t think it’s nice, I think it’s a cynical exercise in false hallmark emotion, and as such can fuck right off taking the career of everyone involved with it.

  3. ThereWolf says :

    Okay. Added to ‘See’ list.

    Reading these lists I really am horrified at how many I’ve missed through one pathetic reason or other.

  4. Chipps says :

    best christmas movie ever: national lampoons christmas vacation.

  5. Chipps says :

    there are some well written reviews here. I might start reviewing some movies my self – let me have a think

  6. Tom_Bando says :

    I liked Billy Bob in Armageddon. “Give this true Truman-make sure he gets that—“

  7. MORBIUS says :

    One of the 12 Days (Movies) of Christmas for me, right up there with Alf’s Special Christmas, HAH, I kill me! Nice job Droid.

  8. jarv says :

    You’re all mistaken. Love, actually has been known to induce diabetes and does, actually, suck hairy goat nob.

  9. koutchboom says :

    WOW. This is a big surprise to me that you like this film Droid. Your sense of humor continues to confound me more and more.

    I love this movie, though I don’t know all the differences between the cuts. I think I own the Badder Santa cut, didn’t seem to be much different then what I saw in the theater.


  10. koutchboom says :

    Has anyone ever seen the KISS saves Christmas special or the Star Wars Christmas Special?

  11. jarv says :

    One difference is what he says to the stripper.

    I’ve seen star wars xmas special

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