Film review by Colin Fraser


bad santa
Santa has turned delightfully bad in this black comedy of a hard-drinking, thieving Father Christmas. score

moviereview rates films from
5 (unmissable) to 1 (unwatchable)
Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, John Ritter

Terry Zwigoff

Glenn Ficarra, John Requa


Rating / Running Time
MA / 91 minutes

Australian Release
November 2004

Official Site

(c) moviereview 2005
ABN 72 775 390 361

The eminently quotable Victor Borge once said that “Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people once a year”. Taking his cue from such black sentiment, Terry Zwigoff has created the complete anti-Christmas comedy, although you might not ever want this Santa climbing down your chimney. Billy Bob Thornton is a child-hating alcoholic who, with his dwarf associate, knock off shopping malls as Father Christmas and his black-elf double-act. But in recent years Santa has gone off the boil: he’s not the safe-cracker he used to be; his language, drinking problem and bladder are out of control and in-store indiscretions (such as anal intercourse in the women’s changing rooms) have caught the attention of mall management. Santa is not just bad, he’s filthy. In need of a place to hide, he moves in with nine year old Thurman Merman, a naïve boy who desperately needs a father figure. Unlikely as it seems, they teach each other one or two life strategies before the police finally close in on bad Santa and his ill-conceived ways. It is said that conservative morality produces a climate of shocking art, and what a welcome breath of fresh air this is. Free from the constraints of television, Zwigoff’s coal-black comedy has more you-can’t-say-that moments than the best episodes of South Park, made even more delightful by Thornton’s arid delivery. While the narrative has its bumpy moments, armed with a sack-full of disturbing belly laughs Bad Santa is a perfect antidote to conventionally sweet festive fare. Parents hold on to your children – this Bad Santa has the presence no kids should see. // COLIN FRASER