Bad Santa

HE DOESN’T CARE IF YOU’RE NAUGHTY OR NICE.

It begins with a Santa throwing up in the alley behind a bar. He then goes on swearing, being mean to children and sodomizing fat women. The bad Santa is actually a boozy safecracker who’s robbing department stores; one day he grudgingly befriends a strange boy. Many other films have had similar premises, but there’s no sentimentality here. That’s good, it’s very crude and funny; the script may need work, but it certainly has more to offer than just four-letter words. Billy Bob Thornton is hilarious as the titular character, and he’s richly supported by Brett Kelly as the kid and John Ritter as the embarrassed store manager.

2003-U.S. 91 min. Color. Produced by Bob Weinstein, Sarah Aubrey, John Cameron. Directed by Terry Zwigoff. Screenplay: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa. Cast: Billy Bob Thornton (Willie T. Soke), Tony Cox (Marcus), Brett Kelly (The Kid), Lauren Graham, Lauren Tom… Bernie Mac, John Ritter. Cameo: Cloris Leachman.

Trivia: Bill Murray and Jack Nicholson were allegedly considered for the part of the Santa. This was Ritter’s final film. Co-executive produced by the Coen brothers. Followed by Bad Santa 2 (2016).

Quote: “Let me tell you something, motherfucker. My brother lost a goddamn arm fighting you fuckers in Vietnam.” (Thornton to a Hindu man)

Last word: “I did it because I was sick of making personal films – desperately fussing with every frame and every note of music. But before I was hired as director I was asked to take a rewrite at the script, which was more of a polish actually. And then after that polish, the film started to become, without me even being conscious of it, a lot more personal.” (Zwigoff, Combustible Celluloid)

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