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There are too many classic Christmas movies to count. Elf is a modern classic that further proves what a comedic powerhouse Will Ferrell can be. Home Alone is an unintentionally disturbing tale about a lonely kid who was completely forgotten by his parents and left alone to defend himself with pots and pans against adults who are literally trying to kill him (a child). And The Nightmare Before Christmas is a certified classic for fat goth girls in 6th grade who still think My Chemical Romance is deep.
But there’s a modern holiday classic that sits in the annals of cinematic history that occasionally gets overlooked. And that film is the old, dusty gem that is Bad Santa. It’s pretty damn wonderful. Released in 2003, it came out of nowhere, like a random fender bender, or gonorrhea. It was a surprise hit at the box office, and its status as a little cult classic has increased every year since it hit DVD. It’s one of the most quotable comedies of the aughts and straight up one of the best Christmas movies to ever bless a screen.
For those of you unlucky bastards who haven’t seen it, Billy Bob Thornton plays a miserable, severe alcoholic of a conman who plays a mall Santa every year and robs the place blind once the Christmas season is over, along with his partner in crime, an “elf.” He eventually develops a bizarre fatherly friendship with an awkward fat kid who lives with his senile grandma.
Billy Bob Thornton’s character is insanely unlikable and occasionally annoying. He’s not a dick in a charming, likable way. He’s a dick in a “holy shit, this guy is a piece of shit” way. But Thornton creates a genuinely fascinating character who’s interesting to watch, a dark mess of a man. He gives a well crafted performance. Here’s a little fun thing to do: Every time you see Billy Bob Thornton on screen, say “that guy actually fucked Angelina Jolie!” No matter how many times you re-realize it, it never ceases to be incredibly shocking.
But the movie is filled with great performances. The 3’6” actor Brian Cox is funny as fuck as an intense, loudmouthed elf that’s always screaming at Santa for his drunken bullshit. John Ritter is also hilarious in it (a super underrated comedic actor who passed away shortly before the film was released). Lauren Graham is also great in it, and she’s so damn hot that you’ll wanna borrow your girlfriend’s Gilmore Girls DVD with some tissues next time no one’s home. But I gotta say, the late great Bernie Mac steals the show. He’s nothing short of brilliant as a suspicious boss and it’s another reminder of what a great talent we lost when he passed away back in ’08.
It’s incredibly uncomfortable, dark and somewhat sad, but it’s funny as hell and it has a surprising amount of heart while managing to not get corny. It’s the perfect Christmas flick, so warm up some popcorn and pour some eggnog and watch this movie before the holiday season wraps up. It’s a great way to catch some laughs and cap off the holiday season.
Stay the fuck away from the sequel, though..