Instantly qualifying as a perennial cult favorite, Bad Santa
is as nasty as it wants to be, and there's something to be said for comedy without compromise. The Coen brothers conceived the basic idea and served as executive producers, but it's director Terry Zwigoff who brings his unique affinity for losers and outcasts to the twisted tale of Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton), a hard-drinking, chain-smoking, foul-mouthed sexaholic safe-cracker who targets a different department store every holiday season, playing Santa while he cases the joint with his dwarf elf-partner Marcus (Tony Cox). With comedic support from Bernie Mac, Lauren Graham, Cloris Leachman, and John Ritter in his final film, Thornton milks the lowbrow laughs with a slovenly lack of sentiment, warming Bad Santa
's pickled heart just enough to please a chubby misfit (Brett Kelly, hilariously deadpan) who may or may not be mentally challenged. As dry as an arid martini and blacker than morning-after coffee, Bad Santa
is an instant cure for yuletide schmaltz, and if you think this appropriately R-rated comedy is suitable for kids, your parenting skills are no better than Willie's. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com
Outlandish Christmas comedy from director Terry Zwigoff. Billy Bob Thornton is Willie T. Stokes, a washed-up, wise-cracking Department Store Santa who can't help but be more naughty than nice. Underneath his ill-fitting red suit, Willie is actually a safecracker who makes one big score every year - on Christmas Eve. As shoppers head home from the mall, this Santa and his ingenious Elf - Willie's midget partner-in crime Marcus (Tony Cox) - crack the store safe and make off with their own holiday stash. But then comes Phoenix. Here Santa and his Elf find their annual heist endangered by a pesky store manager (John Ritter), a savvy mall detective (Bernie Mac), a sexy Santa fan (Lauren Graham) and an innocent but beleaguered 8-year-old misfit (Brett Kelly) who decides to believe that Willie - as intoxicated, acid-tongued and felonious as he seems to be - is the real Santa he's been seeking.