Skip navigation

Film reviews

Bad Santa

Title: Bad Santa

Director: Terry Zwigoff

Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Terry Cox

Reviewer: Matt Eccles

Rating (out of 10): 5


Trumpeted as an antidote to the warm, fluffy festive tosh that inevitably infests cinema screens late in the year, Terry Zwigoff's flagrantly irreverent comedy turns out to be a disappointingly patchy affair.

However, it does have Billy Bob Thornton in excellent form as a drunken, misanthropic bum who appears as a shamelessly slovenly Santa Claus in department stores before he empties their safes on Christmas Eve. He's ably abetted in every sense by Terry Cox as Marcus, his loudmouth dwarf companion who provides almost all of the sporadic laughs.

Things go peartree-shaped with the appearance of a sweet-natured but blithe fat kid (Brett Kelly) who's short of companionship, and a corrupt security chief (Bernie Mac) who wants a taste of the robbers' fruits.

It is this premise and the promise of the involvement of the Coen Brothers - who had the idea in the first place - on executive producer duties that should make this film a clever, astute laugh riot that does indeed serve as an icy, finger-flipping alternative to the woolly cocoon of the usual Yuletide fare. Unfortunately, for all the unseasonal bad behaviour on display, a one-dimensional script renders Bad Santa less than the sum of its parts; it therefore doesn't seem so contradictory to the conventions of Christmastime after all.

Buy Bad Santa from