Andrea’s Angle | Bad Santa

The Two Gay Geeks and our Staff are taking a much needed break from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, but we still wanted to have content for you to read during that time. As such we got busy and watched all of our favorite holiday videos. Some are classics and others are off-beat and loosely associated with the holidays. We hope you enjoy our offerings and that you holiday season is safe, sane, and satisfying.

Bad Santa

By Andrea Rittschof

“Bad Santa” is one film I can absolutely watch over and over. No matter how many times I see it, I laugh at the outrageous scenes and the over the top humor. So when we discussed Christmas movies, this one went to the top of my list. While it is degenerate and profane at times, it still manages to have a heart warming story with all the Christmas elements. It’s not just because it is set around Christmas but the transformation of Willie and the genuine friendship between him and a little boy are what make this film such a great Christmas movie.

“Bad Santa” is about a conman Willie “Tugboat” Sokes (Billy Bob Thornton) and his little person partner, Marcus Skidmore (Tony Cox) who go from mall to mall each Christmas season. Willie works as a mall Santa with Marcus as his elf. But the pair use this as a front to rob the mall, cleaning out the safe, waiting until the next year to hit the next mall. Willie is constantly drunk, raunchy and a terrible Santa, doing the bare minimum until the pair can get out of town.

This year, Marcus sets them up in Phoenix, Arizona and Willie is drunker than ever. Willie is so drunk he makes a crude comment to Bob Chipeska (John Ritter) who brings Willie and Marcus to the attention of the security chief Gin Slagel (Bernie Mac). A young boy, Thurman goes to the mall and is so gullible he thinks Willie is really Santa Claus. Willie heads to a local bar and meets Sue (Lauren Graham), a bartender with a Santa fetish and the two begin a sexual relationship. When she leaves, Willie is harassed by a man from the bar but Thurman comes to his rescue. Willie takes Thurman home, discovering that his father is away visiting the “mountains” and lives alone with his Grandmother. The pair strike up a friendship and when complications arise, Willie moves into the house. However, the security chief learns of Willie and Marcus’ past and demands a cut. The pair get ready for the job but with Willie slowly growing a conscience, things go south, with Marcus planning to eliminate all the complications.

So there are several factors that make this film go great. One of the things I like the best is the balance between the humor and the elements that bring the heart of Christmas into the film. Even though the humor is almost foul at times, it still has love, friendship and miracles. In the film, one of the miracles is that Willie actually makes a connection with this little boy, with the help of Sue. Thurman himself is equal parts clueless and sweet, believing in Willie even when Willie truly doesn’t believe in himself. Even though Willie has slowly steeped himself in alcohol, not willing to pick himself out of his degradation, he is willing to help Thurman when the boy really needs support against a group of bullies. Thurman brings Willie a friendship that the man deeply needs and even though Willie doesn’t change completely, Thurman also brings the spirit of giving and Christmas to Willie, prompting him to care in return, both for Thurman and Sue. This movie, with its focus on Willie and Thurman, is the beautiful demonstration of the miracle that Christmas can be.

Another aspect that really works for me is the comedy. This is a brilliant comedy with so many bits that are hilarious. The humor is raunchy, the type of humor that is almost wrong to find yourself laughing at but works in the context of the film. Billy Bob Thornton has a way of managing to curse and still be funny that is rare and Tony Cox is a hilarious foil to him. The scenes with Willie’s interactions with the innocent Thurman are unbelievably funny. Marcus has some scenes with Gin verge on genius as the pair insult each other, Marcus coming out on top as he calls Gin Michelangelo, a ghetto homo from the 15th century, giving a historical reason for his jibe. Cloris Leachman plays Thurman’s grandmother and has a moment where she appears dead. When she wakes up with Willie over her, that moment is one of the funniest scenes in the film. Even though there are scenes that are shocking and rude, all of it is funny if you like dark humor.

The acting is another element that makes this film worth watching. Billy Bob Thornton is absolutely believable as Willie. You never question that he is Willie Sokes, a con man drunk with a sex addiction problem and a dislike for most children. He is raunchy and gross at times, but perfect in his acting. Tony Cox is sarcastic, biting, and far more intelligent than his partner and his character’s scheming helps carry the film. Lauren Graham is sweet and sexy as Sue, kind to Thurman. Brett Kelly plays his part as the child that is never going to have an abundance of friends, awkward and different but brings just the right presence to the role. The dynamic and connection between him and Billy Bob Thornton is just what brings the heart to the film.

If there is a sour note, is that this film, even though it has such great Christmas heart, is truly unsuitable for children. This is not a film that families can sit down and watch together. The humor is over the top at times and in addition, it borders on x-rated. The comedy elements are extremely off-color. Sometimes that leads to jokes that take things just a step too far too even be funny for most people.

Even though the movie is so bawdy, the connection between Willie and Thurman is great to watch. The humor is almost like watching a train wreck, you really can’t look away as Willie makes things worse and worse, complications piling up. All of the acting is excellent and there are just some jewels of comedy gold in the movie. If you like dark humor with a side of wrong, this is the film for you. It is not a movie for children but for adults who need a Christmas pick me up, this is a awesome choice.

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