Bad Santa

Dan Movie Reviews

Went to Hollywood & Highland with Matt after work, and managed to pick out some decent fall clothes. It’s cold back in Boston, and I needed something other than t-shirts! We then went to the Mann Chinese 6 theater for our screening of Bad Santa. This film, directed by Ghost World director Terry Zweigoff, looked like it might have potential. It was even executive produced by the Coen Brothers.

Billy Bob Thorton was in the audience, about 6 rows behind me. He was wearing a ski cap and dark sunglasses. Yeah, sure – that’s inconspicuous. The only person in the frickin auditorium wearing sunglasses indoors, and we’re NOT supposed to notice? Whatever. After waiting for 45 minutes in the theater, the film was supposed to start. But it didn’t. About 20 minutes after that, I was getting annoyed. Matt was getting annoyed. The audience was getting annoyed. But then, this group of four people, including an overweight kid, were shuffled into the auditorium and got seats. A-ha. Well, there ya go – we were waiting for the main kid in the film. If there was ever a reason to not like a film before it started, keeping the audience waiting in their chairs for a time duration that is longer than the film itself, this was it.

The film itself was a bit disappointing. Sure there were laughs, but almost all of them came from the crassness of the characters. Billy Bob played a department store Santa, who hates kids, and steals from the store with his “elf” counterpart before vanishing for a year, and then resurfacing the following Christmas at another store elsewhere in the country, with new names. He’s a drunk, and an abusive one at that. Not a pleasing character to watch on screen. This kid comes along, and pulls him into his life, and you think it would change Thorton’s character – in the end I suppose it does – but it really doesn’t all that much. Instead, we witness a lot of “tough love” situations, and a few uncomfortable moments.

Even the late John Ritter (in his final film role) seemed to be grimacing at the naughtiness through the film, as his character was more “white bread” than anything else in the movie. Ah well. The music, by David Kitay, was actually pretty good – lots of arrangements and adaptations of classical music and traditional Christmas melodies. Is the soundtrack worth checking out? Definitely. But you can pass on the film.