Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time!
Empire's Guardians Of The Galaxy Cover
Does Star Wars Have A Brain Trust?
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
Subscribe: 6 Issues For £15!
Subscribe today and save 37% off the cover price!
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Billy Bob Thornton
Tony Cox
Brett Kelly
Lauren Graham
Bernie Mac
John Ritter.
Directors
Terry Zwigoff.
Screenwriters
Glenn Ficarra
John Requa.
Running Time
92 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Guardians Of The Galaxy
4 Star Empire Rating
A Night At The Cinema In 1914
4 Star Empire Rating
Hide Your Smiling Faces
4 Star Empire Rating
A Promise
1 Star Empire Rating
Nut Job, The
2 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Two Days, One Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Some Like It Hot
5 Star Empire Rating
A Hard Day's Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Boyhood
5 Star Empire Rating
Rebel Without A Cause
5 Star Empire Rating

Bad Santa
Empire decrees: ALL Christmas movies should be like this.


submit to reddit


Plot
Alcoholic safe-breaker Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) uses his cover as a department store Santa to rob the very same stores. But his living is thrown into jeopardy by a corrupt shop detective (Mac) and a dimwitted small boy (Kelly).


Review
Developed from an original idea from the Coen brothers, Bad Santa is a seasonal confection of vomit, piss, crime, snot, suicide, alcoholism and vigorous anal sex.

Perfect counter-programming, then, against the saccharine bilge usually secreted by studios at Christmas and a positive tonic for those of us who see this time of year as a toxic chore rather than a period imbued with "Yuletide enchantment". So why it's out on Bonfire Night will remain one of cinema's great mysteries!

Essentially, this is a one-joke movie: Santa is not an avuncular, present-delivering grandfather figure, but a dyspeptic misanthrope who we first meet vomiting against an alley wall, and who pursues his real calling as a safe-breaker aided by an only slightly less angry dwarf (brilliantly played by Tony Cox, who's adorned with a Caucasian pair of elf-ears; a sly comment, presumably, on the institutional racism rampant at the North Pole). But the joke is a good one and, more importantly, is delivered by Billy Bob Thornton, one of modern cinema's natural comic actors, while the often literally scatological dialogue is inventive and varied enough to help. On one occasion, for example, Santa listens to a child's Christmas wish before advising him, "Why don't you shit in one hand and wish in the other, see which fills up first?"

Surprisingly, there's something reminiscent of the Ealing comedies about Bad Santa. Like the best Ealings, its tale of cynical criminality terminates a (sort of) moral point. And it's here that Zwigoff pulls of a minor miracle - Santa's growing relationship with The Kid, a snot-faced tweenie with weight issues and limited intelligence, should be the moment that the movie caves in to the truly vulgar sentimentality against which it apparently stood. Instead, Bad Santa's unorthodox sweetness creeps up on you unannounced.

It wafts you out of the cinema grinning not only at lines such as, "You're not going to shit right for a week," delivered by Father Christmas during a particularly exhausting bout of bottom sex with a lady in a changing room, but because Zwigoff has actually managed to slip you a Mickey of that Christmas spirit while you weren't looking. Bastard.


Verdict
Topping off a year of above-average American comedies - Dodgeball and Anchorman being the obvious highlights - Bad Santa is a delightfully obscene alternative to the usual Christmas tosh.


Reviewed by Adam Smith

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Bad Santa
Empire Star Rating

Billy Bob Thornton's amazing, really, really brilliant. The film is also incredibly (and, most of all, blackly) funny. Very recommendable. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 05:44, 12 August 2012 | Report This Post


Some genuinely hilarious moments

"You need many years of therapy. Many, many, many, FUCKING years of therapy". Very enjoyable film. Surprisingly touching too. Great performances from Thornton, Cox, Mac and of course the late John Ritter. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Rocky4 at 09:22, 10 May 2010 | Report This Post


how very dare you!!!

anyone with just a little sense of humour knows that is a barrel full of laughs!! It may only be a one joke film, but the one joke is better than half the comedys released today, although it is not a typical christmas movie is still installs that sense of anticipation and excitement that all good christmas movies do... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by devenden at 10:57, 13 December 2006 | Report This Post


SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Empire Podcast #121: Brett Ratner Talks Hercules On This Week's Show
Plus The Purge: Anarchy producer Jason Blum pops in to talk horror

Empire's Guardians Of The Galaxy Review
Our official verdict on Marvel's latest addition to their cinematic universe

Frank Grillo's Ten Toughest Hollywood Tough Guys
The Purge: Anarchy star picks his favourite badasses

Role By Role With Joel McHale
The star of The Soup and Community on Spider-Man 2 and much more

'I Have The Club But I Didn't Get The Lion's Head'
Dwayne Johnson (and pals) talks Hercules props, action and ancient superheroes

Classic Feature: The Making Of The Silence Of The Lambs
Is this the most frightening movie ever made?

Classic Feature: Jack Nicholson - Gods Among Us
Charisma, consistency and cunning summed up in a single word: Jack.

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time Subscribers' Cover

Subscribe today and get the cover and 3 issues for only £10!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)