|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Saturday, 01 December 2007|
It is that time of year again. The time for joyous, holiday fun with family and friends, lights and decorations, and good old fashioned Christmas comedy movies. Fortunately, "Bad Santa" is not going to be a holiday classic.
Billy Bob Thornton stars as Willie Stokes, a shopping mall Santa Claus and an utter drunk. Tony Cox plays his elf companion, Marcus. The duo works at a shopping mall for 30 days during the holiday season. They use that time to scope out the security scene and wait for Christmas Eve night. On that night they defeat the shopping mall's security system and rob the joint. Marcus steals from the items on the floor that have been listed out for him by his girlfriend, while Stokes works on cracking the safe.
After the job, Stokes attempts to retire to Miami. However, he ends up wasting his stolen money and drinking more than ever. Marcus calls Stokes' lazy self to Phoenix, for their next holiday shopping mall scam. The filmmakers did an okay job of getting to this point of the film. It did take them a little too long, about 25 minutes into the film. However, this is where the film goes down the drain.
The entire middle of the film had some plotlines buried deep inside it, but they were never fully realized, and thus the film could have just skipped right to the end.
The middle of the film comprises of a semi-retarded kid who thinks Stokes really is Santa Claus, a bunch of foul-mouthed eruptions by Stokes, alcoholism beyond belief, a sexy bartender, a less-than-ethical shopping mall head of security, and…that's about it.
The thing I can't get past is how the filmmakers can get away with thinking a "cancel" button exists on an alarm pad. I have never seen an alarm with a cancel function unless you re-type the code into the pad. But I guess the whole movie wouldn't work without that premise.
I must say the film did have a semi-clever ending. At the very least it was not a Hollywood cliché ending.
There were about three highlights to the entire film. First, there was the scene between Gin (Bernie Mac), the shopping mall's head of security and Willie Stokes and Marcus. Marcus tries to negotiate with Gin on the amount of money Gin will receive from the robbery. Gin wants half, and Marcus starts at 30 and goes to 33 and then 33 and a third, 40, etc. It is a difficult one to explain, but trust me; it's a laugh riot.
The second highlight is the boxing scene between the semi-retarded kid (Brett Kelly), Stokes and Marcus. They proceed to take turns kicking each other in the nuts and falling on the ground. While it is complete stupidity, it is one of those scenes that are so dumb it's funny.
The final highlight is Lauren Graham, who plays Sue, the sexy bartender. She only has a few scenes, but she shines brightly. As shown in "Gilmore Girls", she has an on-screen personality the captures your complete attention.
The video quality was fairly good. The image was a bit soft, and at times looks out of focus. The colors decent, but were not as vibrant as most Blu-ray films. The biggest drawback to this Blu-ray transfer was the lack of depth. The sub-par contrast created more of a two-dimensional look to the film. Overall, the film was not plagued from jaggies or dot crawl and is definitely better than the DVD transfer.
The audio is presented in an Uncompressed PCM 5.1 format. The film was predominately dialogue based, but there were several moments with discreet sound effects, which were well placed. The surrounds however, lacked a good ambience track. The dialogue track was mixed a little low, and lacks that EQ'd sweet spot in the vocals, but was by no means difficult to hear.
This Blu-ray edition contains an Unrated Cut and a Director's Cut of the film, but no original theatrical cut. The unrated version present on the Blu-ray, with a running time of 98 minutes, is the same as that on the Badder Santa DVD edition. The Director's Cut has a running time of 88 minutes and closely resembles the "Bad Santa" DVD edition. For the purposes of this review, the unrated cut was used.
There are a couple special features that are exclusive to the Blu-ray disc. First there is the standard Movie Showcase, which takes you to the creator's favorite scenes. And the second exclusive feature is an Interview with Roger Ebert, Director Terry Zwigoff, and editor Robert Hoffman. Neither of these bonus features is anything special and can be skipped.
The Blu-ray disc also contains the original DVD features, which were not re-mastered into high-definition. First there are three deleted/alternate scenes. The funniest one by far (and perhaps the best part of the entire disc) is the deleted scene with Sarah Silverman. There is also a "Behind the Scenes" featurette, "Badder Santa" Gag Reel, and Outtakes. The Gag Reel, outtakes, and alternate scenes are all redundant of each other. The Behind the Scenes featurette is not very insightful. The final bonus feature is an audio commentary (only available when watching the Director's Cut).
Bar-none, "Bad Santa" ranks at the bottom of the barrel for Christmas movies and probably of all movies in general. I would rather have to watch the "Home Alone" trilogy on loop for a week straight than sit through "Bad Santa" again. It is not a stretch to say that this film is anti-Christmas. Most Christmas films arrive at the Christmas spirit by the end of it, but this one never comes close. If you are into foul language movies with a long, drawn out, simplistic plot then by all means get this film. I would suggest renting first though.