Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Outtakes; deleted scenes; featurette.
CHRISTMAS movies traditionally come wrapped in enough schmaltz
to make even the sweetest viewer feel a little sick, so it makes
a refreshing change to find one as politically incorrect as Bad
Terry Zwigoff's movie is an unrelenting black comedy, about an
out-and-out loser (Billy Bob Thornton) who poses as Santa each
Christmas in order to rob the store of his choosing, so that he
can pay for his drinking money for the ensuing 12 months.
Far from being a criminal mastermind, however, Thornton's Willie
T Stokes is a drunken, swearing, occasionally incontinent, but
always horny thief, who only makes it through each season thanks
to the watchful guidance of his equally foul-mouthed accomplice
- a black dwarf, named Marcus (played by Tony Cox).
Yet time is running out for the duo, thanks in no small part
to the self-loathing that Willie continues to feel for himself,
and the unwanted attentions of some of the town's equally hopeless
First off, there's Bernie Mac's crooked security chief, who wants
in on the scam, followed by the late John Ritter's timid mall
manager, who simply wants rid of his new-found liabilities.
To complicate matters still further, Willie finds himself being
hero-worshipped by a chubby picked-on kid (Brett Kelly), who is
seriously short on his own self-respect, while simultaneously
embarking on an unlikely relationship with a sexy bartender (Lauren
Graham) who gets her sexual kicks from sleeping with Santa.
Sound deviant? You bet but therein
lies the fun. It's no mistake that the movie was produced by Joel
and Ethan Coen given that their deadpan, offbeat humour resonates
throughout the proceedings.
Rather like unwrapping a sex toy in front of your parents, or
turning up drunk for the Christmas meal, the film continually
sets about offending most sensibilities - yet does so with aplomb.
Thornton really ought not to be likeable as the bad Santa in
question, especially since he gives trailer trash a good name,
but there is something oddly satisfying about watching his despicable
low-life stumble from one disaster to the next. He is an unlikely
anti-hero, whose outlandish habits somehow seem cool no matter
how hurtful they are.
Zwigoff's script is packed full of did he really say that moments,
all of which flirt with the boundaries of good taste, but which
have you laughing hysterically in spite of your own misgivings.
What's more, it doesn't cop out, as so many anti-hero movies
do. Willie does come to care, in spite of himself, but the movie
refuses to allow him off the hook completely, making it the sort
of gift that keeps on giving.
That said, the movie is not for the faint-hearted, or anyone
who is likely to feel offended by the notion of seeing Santa swear
at children, and it's sure to provoke the wrath of the Daily Mail
brigade. Kids should steer well clear.
But for anyone who has had their fill of preachy festive movies,
or adopts a Scrooge-like mentality to the whole festive period,
this offers the perfect remedy.
It's laugh-out-loud funny, completely original and a cracker
from start to finish.