Bad Santa (15)

Written by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, Directed by Terry Zwigoff
On general release from 5th November 2004

Reviewed by Adam Ford

It definitely doesn't feel like Christmas yet. The deccies may be up on Bold Street and the shops may be drowning in tinsel and Cliff Richard songs, but there are still weeks and weeks to go. So it's a bit early for the cinemas to foist vomit-inducing 'feelgood' schmaltz on us. Fortunately, Bad Santa isn't vomit-inducing 'feelgood' schmaltz.

Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) isn't your usual chain store Santa. He chain-smokes though. And he openly hates children. And he swears a lot. And drinks a lot. And gets-off with customers in the outsize changing rooms. Oh, and he only does the grotto thing so he can rob the big malls on Christmas Eve with his real-life dwarf accomplice (Tony Cox) and live off the proceeds for the rest of the year. So far so bad, but of course this year will be different, because he's going to get mixed-up with a Santa fetishist (Lauren Graham), an crooked security guard (Bernie Mac) and a lonely introverted boy in need of protection from local bullies (Brett Kelly).

Put Father Christmas in any situation that doesn't involve him grinning and going 'ho ho ho' and whatever he does will be funny, but Thornton is suspiciously perfect as the mean-spirited anti-hero, and Bad Santa is a genuinely hilarious comedy for the Scrooge in all of us. Who knows? By the end you might you might actually 'feel good'. Christmas has indeed come early.