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Bad Santa (2003)
Rated R

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox and Lauren Graham

Rating:
****
out of
*****

Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) and Marcus (Tony Cox) are a tagteam of criminals who pose as Santa and his elven helper in shopping centers every year. When the mall closes for the evening on Christmas Eve, Willie cracks the store's safe and Marcus takes the most valuable items from the salesfloor. In one night, they earn enough money to keep them afloat until the next holiday season. They've been doing it for years.

Lately, though, Willie's alcoholism and cynicism have gotten worse and he can't stay focused. Marcus tries to keep him on-track, but Willie can't seem to stay sober or motivate himself to stick with the plan, which requires him to have hundreds of children sit on his lap daily. Willie hates kids almost as much as he hates himself and everything else.

When their plan takes them to Phoenix for another holiday stint, they meet a cast of characters who could be their undoing, including nosy mall manager Bob Chipeska (John Ritter), crooked mall security chief Gin (Bernie Mac), and an eight-year old kid with an unhealthy obsession with questions (Brett Kelly).

Bad Santa is vulgar, crude and possesses a mean streak a mile wide but it's charming and laugh-out-loud funny and that's what counts. Billy Bob Thornton is well-cast as the alcoholic Willie. While the movie never redeems his character, you still end up feeling an attachment to him. When he meets Sue (Lauren Graham), a bartender with a Santa fetish, you feel good that he's finally met someone with whom he can connect.

Hopefully, no one mistakes this movie for family holiday fare. It's the polar opposite and probably features the most uses of the f-word in a Christmas movie. Bad Santa is definitely an adult movie with an adult sense of humor. As a result, I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Trivia: Bill Murray was signed on as Willie but dropped out for Lost in Translation. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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