Bad Santa, for all its bravado, is a surprisingly traditional and sentimental holiday film.
Sure, Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac and the others are vile, politically incorrect and offensive but in the end the film redeems them after they make choices that affirm traditional holiday values like the spirit of giving, loving your brother and coming to the aid of those in need.
This isn’t a criticism. In fact, it’s one of the film’s strengths. It manages to stay true to the spirit of classics like It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street while appealing to generations who like to think of themselves as more sophisticated. This film is a “gotcha” to all those who think themselves too cool.
On top of that Bad Santa is ridiculously funny. My personal favourite is the “Fuck me Santa!” line. Cloris Leechman’s “sandwich” bit is hysterical too. Everything in this movie should make you spew your popcorn. That’s what a good comedy should do. Remarkably, it also warms the cockles of your holiday heart.
John Ritter’s last film is a fitting tribute to one of film and television’s funniest performers. This will make a nice addition to Christmas Eve viewing for years to come.