Bad Santa (2003)

1h 31m / R / Comedy, Crime, Drama

Santa Claus (Billy Bob Thornton as Willie T. Soke) is an alcoholic, suicidal, chain-smoking, perverted, depressed career criminal with a touch for safecracking, a mouth like a stevedore and gin blossoms that look practically radioactive. His only friend is Marcus (Tony Cox), a little person he has convinced to play his elfin “little helper” and pick some pockets or snatch some jewelry. This is the kind of depiction of Santa you never see in the movies. Which is weird, when you step back and think about it, because it’s a darn sight closer to the reality of any given Santa you might meet than most of his filmic appearances. Who are you more likely to meet at the mall: supernatural toy-bringer, or drunk creep? In any case, Bad Santa is uncompromising in its vision of a few horrible but hilarious people in a strange moment in all their lives. It’s elevated by an absolutely bonkers performance by Thornton, who apparently never met a risk he didn’t like — Roger Ebert called it “comic kamikaze.” And in the end, it’ll make you laugh your guts out and maybe feel a little better about your own dysfunction.