Bad Santa Terry Zwigoff

Bad SantaTerry Zwigoff
When this film was released during last year's Christmas season, it didn't have a snowball's chance in hell in making any serious waves. Bad Santa is the anti-Christmas film — this mall replica of jolly Saint Nick doesn't care what your kids want to find under the tree. In fact, he would sooner they just get the hell off his lap so he can have a drink and a cigarette after he sleeps with your mother in the change room. You might have a hard time warming up to Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) if you ever do — he's got a mouth that would put a sailor to shame and he does not care about maintaining the illusion that he is Santa Claus, with his fake soiled beard barely covering his three o'clock shadow and his difficulties controlling his rage. The only people that can stand to be in his company is his bartending girlfriend (Lauren Graham), who has a Santa fetish, and some bizarre boy who asks too many questions but has a massive house with only a confused grandmother babysitting. Bad Santa is absolutely hysterical though, especially when tempers flare between its characters, including a tear-inducing scene between Bernie Mac and Tony Cox, who plays Santa's little helper. There's more to Bad Santa than just stringing obscenities and political incorrectness together, as Willie learns to use his heart as he very, very slowly begins to warm up to the boy, who is in desperate need of friends and courage. There's also a criminal operation behind that red satin suit, but it's the quick moments of smart-ass comebacks and verbal abuse that makes Bad Santa so amusing and unbelievably twisted. The extras are few but entertaining, such as some fantastic deleted scenes, like Sarah Silverman's surprise cameo as a department store Santa trainer, delivering the monologue that Willie couldn't care less about. Another great deleted scene has our criminal Santa taking his time to steal the perfect car and then robbing the house of the vehicle's owner, leaving a nasty toilet surprise in the process. There's a small featurette with "behind the scenes" where the under-four-foot Tony Cox states that this is the greatest role of his career, director Terry Zwigoff explains how difficult it was to get this film made (it was turned down by almost everyone), as well as a partial tribute to the late John Ritter. As great as the film is, with high quality extras, there is no commentary, which is heartbreaking for a film of this calibre. Still, with this film being completely overlooked during the holiday season, it should reach a new fan base with a summer release on DVD, hopefully encouraging a more deluxe package for a very misunderstood film. Plus: outtakes. (Alliance Atlantis)