Closing out the first day of the Christmas in July Blogathon 2016 weekend is Keith from Keith Loves Movies. Besides reviews and trailers, Keith has a variety of features on his site, so go check it out after you finish his review here. Keith comes to us with a review of a not-your-average-Christmas-movie movie: Bad Santa.
The crotchety Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) and his partner Marcus (Tony Cox) reunite once a year for a holiday con. Posing as a mall Santa and his elf, they rip off shopping outlets on Christmas Eve. This year, however, Willie is falling apart. He’s depressed and alcoholic, and his erratic behavior draws the suspicion of mall security and their leader named Gin (Bernie Mac). But when befriending a small boy (Brett Kelly) brings out his kinder side, Willie begins to wonder if there is still some hope for him.
Everyone has seen at least one Christmas film in their lives even if you might not want to admit it. They can be cheerful, overly sentimental, and they always seem to have some sort of message which can sometimes get on our nerves. That was why this film was such a welcome change when it was originally released back in 2003. This was a film for people who may or may not be fans of more traditional Christmas films. This was a big draw for me when it was first released and its message still holds true today.
This one is about a man named Willie T. Stokes (Thornton) and his partner Marcus (Cox) who every year pose as a mall Santa and an elf and steal from stores on Christmas Eve. This all was kind of ironic due to some unknown reasons, Stokes does not like Christmas or anything about it. There were also several instances in which he lashes out in this way. There is something a little more wrong with him this year, however, as he has become more of a loser in that he has become more of an alcoholic and is more belligerent and sex-crazed much to the chagrin of Marcus who is trying hard to hold things together for them and Marcus’ wife Lois (Lauren Tom).
What made this film so great was that Stokes stands out from the setting with his foul-mouth, cynical, sarcastic, belligerent nature. This was hilarious to watch and what made it even better was Thornton’s deadpan delivery which probably would not have worked as well if it were someone else at the helm. This nature continued in his interactions with a boy who we later learn is named Thurman Murman (Brett Kelly). He looks up to Stokes, maybe more than he deserves, thinking that he is the real Santa Claus asking him too many questions in that regard, often resulting in very sarcastic and hilarious answers. The fact that he lacked any parental figures, he clinged to the closest parental figure in Stokes, perhaps a little too much here. His performance here was more physical than verbal with him excelling at both. Being an average loser type kid, this forces Stokes to start to empathize with Murman, allowing us to see more of a human side. Continuing to play against standard Christmas film tropes, this isn’t exactly a redemption story as Stokes doesn’t really change his act for anyone but Murman makes him stop and think more. He helps Stokes start to regain his faith in Christmas and humanity in general.
Stokes was fun to watch as you didn’t always know what he was going to say or do next but was also great was his chemistry with Cox’s Marcus. They were hilarious and great to watch together with Marcus being the more straight man in the relationship, trying to counterbalance Stokes’ brashness. Marcus had his own little subplot and the pun was not intended here as a lot of the jokes here were based on his vertically-challenged nature. After little screen time, we learn that his wife Lois is a very demanding person, often wanting the best of everything and this makes Marcus go to great lengths in order to satisfy this. This film also featured some great supporting roles with a waitress with a Santa fetish named Sue (Lauren Graham), the store manager named Bob Chipeska (John Ritter in his last onscreen role), and Mac as Gin, the store’s head of security. The only negative here was that Gin should have had a bigger role here as he was set up as a foil for Stokes and Markus but the film didn’t go far enough with this.
Overall, this was a great Christmas film which people who like and don’t like Christmas films will enjoy and features a great comedic performance by Billy Bob Thornton.
Who did Keith invite to our Christmas party in hopes of meeting them under the mistletoe? Well, it is none other than Kate McKinnon.
Thanks, Keith! With Ghostbusters recently being released, I can see why you would want to have her at the party. Goofy people are always the most fun to hang out with.
Be on the lookout tomorrow for the celebration to continue with Allie of Flick Chicks and her review of an often loathed television special.