Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, Lauren Graham
Director: Terry Zwigoff
Running Time: 96 mins
Bad Santa is an American film about a miserable man who poses as Santa Claus in department stores, and then robs them blind. However, his life is turned upside down when he meets a strange little kid who really believes he is Santa.
Right, this is about as dark as Christmas comedies can get. It’s a pretty bleak and depressing take on the spirit of the holiday, and works to some degree in providing shocking and satirical laughs from time to time, but too regularly does it stray over the line of what is clever dark satire, and ultimately features far too much unpleasant comedy that just doesn’t work to the same degree.
On the positive side, this film does have two good sequences. Firstly, the establishing ten minutes are pretty entertaining as you get to know this miserable central character, and the shock value of the dark anti-Christmas comedy works pretty well.
Then, the second best bit is when we first meet this young kid, who is by far the most entertaining character in the movie. He’s clearly extremely messed-up, but it’s all done in a much lighter and more comical way that you can enjoy the almost surreal nature of how strange it all is.
So, there are times when you can get enjoyment out of the darkness of this film, but it doesn’t last all that long. Whilst there are decent jokes here and there throughout the film, it’s tough to muster up anything more than a small chuckle, and they’re too few and far between anyway for it to be considered as a successfully funny movie.
Then, we have to question how dark this film really goes, which, in my opinion, is a little too far. I didn’t find any of the comedy and satire at all offensive, because it worked in the initial moments, but what this film fails to do is provide you with interesting and new takes on its dark atmosphere, and instead goes all-out on an extremely unpleasant vibe.
By the end, I was just having such a bad time with this movie that I wanted it to end. It’s got its merits as a very black comedy, but it’s just too much in the end to have a good time with, and that’s why Bad Santa gets a 6.5 from me.