Friday, November 28, 2003

Bad Santa (IMDB) (Netflix)
Billy Bob Thornton is the worst department store Santa of all time: a self-soiling drunk, a womanizer and a crook, with a uniquely seasonal scam, partnering with little person Tony Cox as Santa's helper to crack the store's safe after all the children and sales associates are nestled safely in their beds. Thornton's conscience is nowhere to be found, at least not until the biggest loser in movie kid history makes his acquaintance, and even then it takes a determined seige of pathetic innocence. With the late John Ritter as the appalled store manager and Bernie Mac as the security guy, and a too-good-for-him Laura Graham as the bartender with a puzzling thing for men in red suits. Directed by Terry Swigoff of Ghost World and Crumb and produced by the Coen Brothers.

If this seems entirely unappealling, then "Bad Santa" wasn't written for you, and there's far more wholesome fare available. If, however, you can the see the twisted comedic possibilities, then come on in and enjoy the orgy of inappropriate, hate-yourself-for-laughing humor that would give a college sophomore pause. Only with Robert Duvall's performance in The Great Santini has an actor been more determined to be so unsympathetic, or so successful.