Christmas cynics rejoice! Here's a big bad comedy just for you. Willie T.
Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) is a surly, sleazy, sarcastic alcoholic who earns
enough money cracking department store safes at Christmastime to support his
boozing-and-babes lifestyle for the rest of the year.
It works like this: each December, Stokes is summoned to a different
locale by his partner Marcus (Tony Cox), a dwarf, for jobs as a Santa and his
elf. While Santa bounces the kids on his knee, listening none too patiently to
their wishes, the elf meticulously investigates the store's security system.
Then, on Christmas Eve, when the safe's full of cash, they pull a robbery
Problem is: Willie's perpetual drinking has made him unreliable and
unruly, so their current gig in suburban Phoenix gets off to a shaky start with
the store manager (the late John Ritter, to whom the film is dedicated). He
reports their suspiciously rude behavior to the security chief (Bernie Mac),
who has plans of his own. Meanwhile, Santa's befriended by a sweet, chubby,
achingly lonely kid (Brett Kelly) whose takes him home. Since the kid's in the
care of his grandmother (Cloris Leachman) who's perpetually comatose in front
of the TV, rising only to make sandwiches, soon Willie's frolicking in the
hot-tub with a lusty barmaid (Lauren Graham).
Striving to earn their R-rating, director Terry Zwigoff ("Ghost World")
and screenwriters Glenn Ficarra and John Requa spare no one. It's equal
opportunity offensive - and very, very funny. Which is not surprising since the
quirky Coen brothers are executive producers. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1
to 10, "Bad Santa" is a wickedly subversive 8. And if you like this kind of
vulgar humor, Bill Murray's "Scrooged" (1998) takes a similar tone.\
Copyright © 2003 Susan Granger