Bad Santa

Bad Santa (2003)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, John Ritter, Bernie Mac, Lauren Graham, Lauren Tom
Extras: Deleted Scenes, Featurette, Bloopers

One can only hope parents are not intrigued by the word ’Santa’ in the title to buy this film for their children as this is definitely not a kid’s movie! It probably ranks as the most vile Santa film ever made and scores a full 100 on the F-word-per-minute scale. I just wanted to point that out to make sure there are no misunderstandings here.

Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) is a safe cracker and he and his associate Marcus use the Holiday Season as the perfect alibi to spend a lot of time in the department store, where they make plans to rob the safe on New Year’s Eve. Same routine every year, but with every year Willie’s being in worse shape. A drunkard, a womanizer, a lowlife and a looser, he is getting more and more unreliable and it’s getting increasingly harder to sell him off as ’Santa’ as he begins to deliriously swear at the kids on his lap or pees his pants in full public view. Photo opportunities turn into outpours of profanity and Willie is using every possible second to make his own life a bit more miserable. Will the two be able to pull off their coup once again with Willie in this shape or will they get fired before Christmas even comes around?

While I did get a few laughs and chuckles out of the movie I didn’t really enjoy it, I have to admit. For me the movie is forgettable and clearly too borderline, and the foul language gets so tedious after a while that you think everyone in the film is just a bit more retarded than the next person, and for me that’s just not entertaining. I thought the basic premise of the film is pretty good and some of the plot elements like the kid who steadfastly glues himself to what he believes is Santa Clause make for a nice overall arch. Too bad really that a good story has been completely butchered here by the desire to simply pack as many swearwords into the movie as anyhow possible for no reason at all. All these characters could actually have talked like real people and still made an impact.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment presents the film in a pristine widescreen presentation that is free of any blemishes. The transfer shows a very good level of detail and colors are rich without over-saturation. Black levels are solid, creating deep shadows that still hold enough definition without breaking up. No edge-enhancement is visible and the compression is also without artifacts.

The audio on the release comes as a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital mix that is engaging and active, making good use of the split surrounds as it creates the bustling atmosphere of a busy shopping mall during the holiday season. Dialogues are well integrated and always understandable.

A few extras are included on the release such as a selection of deleted scenes – wise choice – and a brief behind-the-scenes promo featurette of little real value. A series of bloopers can also be found, which are actually more real than many aspects of the actual film and thus make for some great laughs.

I think ’Bad Santa’ is a superficially rude film without a purpose. It could have been a very cool and sensible crime caper movie if the filmmakers hadn’t decided to twist it so completely into obscenity.