Billy Bob Thornton puts the 'grot' into grotto as an alcoholic safecracker who takes a job as a department store Santa in order to rob the place. Seedy, foul-mouthed and totally lacking in festive spirit, Thornton's Willie Stokes is humbug personified. But the gloriously offensive script ensures the kids give as good as they get in this uproarious cult comedy.
Billy Bob Thornton
Willie T. Stokes (Thornton) is a drunken safe robber who annually gets a job as a department store Santa in order to rob them of their Christmas takings, aided by his three-foot-tall sidekick Marcus.
On his latest Christmas gig in Phoenix, Willie finds himself - through no fault of his own - being put on a pedestal by a bullied 8-year-old fat kid who lives with his out-of-it gran.
Stokes decides to move into their house and hooks up with a barmaid who has a thing for Santa...
Bad Santa isn't exactly anti-Christmas, it's just refreshingly offensive, un-PC and unsentimental about the whole festive thing.
Yes, it gets a little sugary towards the end but not in the way you'd think and still on its own twisted terms.
The film is played straight by all concerned, which just makes it funnier.
Thornton (in a role Bill Murray dropped out of to do Lost In Translation) is perfectly cast and has a ball.
Misanthropic, cynical and grouchy, his Santa is one of the best screen creations of recent years - and as far removed from any screen Santa you've seen.
How many film Santas are alcoholic, hate kids, rob safes and have a thing for large-bottomed women?
There's also something inherently funny about scenes of physical comedy involving everyone hitting each other in the balls!
The dialogue is priceless too, with exchanges between Thornton and kids that, once you stop laughing, have you wondering if he really did just say what you think he said.
When a kid asks him about his false beard, Thornton claims he wears it after losing his hair through illness - "I loved a woman that wasn't clean."
"No, it was her sister."
The perfect reality check for those wanting to escape the sentiment and general tack of the festive season.