I have a soft spot in my heart for Billy Bob Thornton. He's my kind of guy. Mostly angry and profane, he has his moments of what us movie critics would call tenderness. He is the most sublime actor since Tommy Lee Jones [Al Gore's college roommmate] chewed scenery in the '70s and '80s.
Billy Bob earned an Oscar nomination for "Monster's Ball". Halle Berry won the statue. The movie put me to sleep. Billy Bob pays his dues, and is the best character actor in Hollyweird. Maybe it's because I'm a redneck, but I always relate to whatever role Mr. Thornton choses. He is a much better David Crockett than John Wayne, although the historical end of "The Alamo" has me asking questions. (I am a descendant of Captain Dickenson, the artillery captain. I have to ask.)
The official critics blasted "Bad Santa". It's a story of redemption, in the revisionist Hollyweird style. I'll try not to do "spoilers", but a movie about a chain-smoking, profane, perpetually drunk Santa Claus thief can't be all bad. I have the maddening habit of speaking dialogue before it is pronounced on the screen. I am Scrooge; I know what the bad Santa is going to say, because I have mumbled it.
"Bad Santa" is becoming a holiday tradition in The Possum Den. The capers are cool, but the attitude towards children, and the redemption of Santa, and the human spirit, is much more transcendent than the critics perceived. The kids are grown, and won't scream when Santa calls a brat "a little *******", takes a drink from a short-dog, and lights another cigarette.
The folks at the Internet Movie Database [IMDB, for future reference] rate this movie a 7.62. I rate it higher, because I am a big fan of anything concerning redemption, no matter how formulaic and Hollyweird saccharine it might be. Billy Bob is perfect as a child-hater who makes W.C. Fields look like a piker. Yet there is redemption there.
Christmas is an edgy propsition. Jesus was born among farm animals. Mary's pregnancy was a scandal, and we killed her child. "Bad Santa" is the perfect anti-Christmas, for those moments when we grow tired of defending our traditions against those who claim to be "offended" by what they perceive as a perversion of the First Amendment. I am offended by those who take offense, but I don't run crying for a lawyer. Grow up!
News flash! The federal government does not exist to protect you from things that offend you! I see plenty from minoritities that offends me, but I don't call the ACLU. I ain't perfect. Get over it, and may Jesus shine His light in your life during the coming year. Otherwise, go your way, and may peace be with you. God bless all here.
Meanwhile, rent or buy "Bad Santa" as the perfect anti-Christmas. We cuss while assembling the presents under the tree. Billy Bob takes it to the limit. No one else could dare to do what he does. I love a traditional Chistmas; I was brought up on them. My grandfather used to masquerade as Santa. I knew it was him, but I played along because of the exchange of love.
"Bad Santa" is a great reminder of why we observe our holiday. As Aristotle mentioned, it's also good catharsis. Billy Bob says everything bad about Christmas, and children, so we don't have to. If you've ever raised kids of your own, you'll appreciate the reptilian honesty of character in this under-rated gem. I don't think a parent exists who hasn't paused at some point and said "**** this!."
I love Christmas, but live in the real world. The magic is lost, but not forgotten. Perhaps the the redemption of the "Bad Santa" is more important than the movie itself. When you arrive at the "Bah! Humbug!" moment, it's a life saver.