Bad Santa (1/10)

Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley

One of the happiest moments of my year in movie theaters occurred during this film when I looked at my watch and discovered there were only 20 minutes left before I could leave.  Even though those 20 minutes seemed nigh on to eternity, I’m thrilled to report that it does, indeed, end.

Please remember the names John Requa and Glenn Ficarra. They are the writers and apparently the only word they can spell is the “f” word, because that’s every other word from virtually every character. If it’s not the “f” word, it’s another scatological four-letter word. These guys must have been educated in the hood, although none of the dialogue rhymes.

Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) is a dirty, foul-mouthed, drunken bum who gets a job each year as Santa (hey, this is Hollywood!). His buddy is Marcus (Tony Cox), his three-foot tall “elf” who gets him his gigs. They have a scam, which is that they end up robbing the stores, so they can’t go back to their former stores.

The idea that someone as loathsome as Willie could get a job as a Santa, much less hold it for more than five minutes, is ludicrous.

The Kid (Brett Kelly) is a fat “loser” who’s picked on by bullies and who somehow pictures this loser of a Santa as someone to look up to. Yeah, sure.

This movie isn’t funny, poignant, touching, interesting, uplifting, involving, and has no premise. The ending is ridiculous. It’s a low-class movie about low-class people with no redeeming social value. There’s no nudity or sex, but this is as pornographic a movie as you’ll ever see.

There is, however, a bigger issue, and that’s the integrity of the people who made it. For the most part, they’re minor leaguers who probably need the money. That’s not the case with Billy Bob Thornton, who’s a well-known actor who gets lots of gigs. The assumption must be made that he read the script, and concluded, “Yes, I want to do this.” As far as I’m concerned, someone who could say yes or no to this script without any financial consequences and says yes has made a statement as to the quality of his character. Can you picture Paul Newman in this role? Cary Grant? Anthony Hopkins? There are roles that people with integrity refuse. This was one.

The last scene is The Kid riding away from the camera giving us the finger. I interpreted this as a signal from Director Terry Zwigoff to his audience. However, it wasn't enough for Zwigoff to actually give the finger to his audience. He compounded the outrage by using Habañaera from Bizet’s Carmen, one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, as the background music for the final credits. Bizet must be turning over in his grave as a result of this affront to good taste.

I understand the reason for making this, greed. There’s no reason to see it. Bad Santa isn't just a bad movie; it's a disgrace.

November 26, 2003

The End