Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Terry Zwigoff|
|Produced by||John Cameron
|Written by||Glenn Ficarra
|Starring||Billy Bob Thornton
|Music by||David Kitay|
|Editing by||Robert Hoffman|
|Distributed by||Dimension Films|
|Running time||91 minutes|
Bad Santa is a 2003 American Christmas crime comedy film directed by Terry Zwigoff, and starring Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, and Lauren Graham, with Tony Cox, Brett Kelly, Lauren Tom, and John Ritter in supporting roles. It was Ritter's last film appearance before his death in 2003. The Coen brothers are credited as "executive producers".
An unrated version was released on DVD on March 5, 2004 and on Blu-ray Disc on November 20, 2007 as Bad(der) Santa. A director's cut DVD was released in November 2006; it features Zwigoff's cut of the film (including an audio commentary with him and the film's editor), which is three minutes shorter than the theatrical cut and ten minutes shorter than the unrated version.
Willie Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) and Marcus (Tony Cox) are professional heistmen, that take on the Santa Claus routine for the children at a different shopping mall every year as a front for the opportunity to on Christmas Eve, disable the mall alarms, clean out the safe and then disappear. Willie is an alcoholic, a sex addict and is getting gradually unable to perform the Santa routine much to Marcus' dismay. This year, Willie and Marcus are hired at a mall in Phoenix, Arizona and Willie's brash remarks shocks prudent mall supervisor Bob Chipeska (John Ritter) who brings Willie to the attention of security guard chief Gin Slagel (Bernie Mac). During the festivities, Willie meets bartender Sue (Lauren Graham), and the two strike up a relationship.
During his shift as Santa, Willie is visited by Thurman (Brett Kelly), an exceedingly naive, overweight boy, who believes Willie is actually Santa and is the target of taunts from a skateboarding gang. When Willie is in the parking lot, he is confronted by a man (Ajay Naidu) who insists he is not gay; Thurman believing Santa needs his assistance joins in and the man not wanting to expose the kid to adult matters, leaves. Willie gives Thurman a ride home, and through much misleading verbal discourse, learns that the boy lives in an affluent house with just his very senile grandmother. Thurman reveals that his mother left, and his father is away 'exploring mountains' (when he is actually in jail for embezzlement). As Thurman has no suspicion that Willie is not Santa, makes no resistance when Willie breaks into the house safe and takes his father's BMW.
When Willie is caught having sex with a heavyset woman in a mall dressing room, Gin gets suspicious. When Willie goes to his motel room and sees someone ransacking his room, he inquires a bystanding hooker as to who is in his room and realizes the police may be on to him. Willie then takes advantage of Thurman's naivety and takes residence in his house enduring Thurman's relentless barrage of questions.
Marcus disapprovingly berates Willie for shamelessly taking advantage of Thurman, and states that Willie's becoming more unreliable due to his alcoholism. Thurman visits Willie during his shift as Santa after receiving a wedgie from his bullies. After seeing Thurman hurt himself by accidentally cutting his hand, Willie grows fonder towards him, showing him how to defend himself against bullies and, after seeing Thurman with a black eye, attacks the bullies to get them off Thurman's back.
Whilst Willie and Sue are fooling around, Thurman interrupts in order to give Willie his present – a wooden pickle he made himself. Later, Willie gives Thurman a letter, telling him to give it to the police to explain what will really happen on Christmas Eve at the mall.
Gin visits Thurman's father in prison and learns that there should be no house guests living with Thurman and his grandmother. Upon hearing this, he figures out Willie and Marcus' plan. He then demands half of the criminals' loot from their planned robbery. When Willie is home with Thurman, Marcus and his wife Lois murder Gin as a way of keeping all the money for themselves.
After hearing Thurman sadly insult himself, Willie sternly tells him that he's not Santa Claus, and that he doesn't exist. Thurman states that he's always known there hasn't been a Santa but thought that Willie would like to give him a present because they were friends. On Christmas Eve, Willie, Marcus and Lois break into the mall as planned. It takes Willie longer than usual to crack open the safe; Marcus notices this and after successfully opening it, Marcus reveals to Willie that he is becoming too unreliable and was planning on killing him.
Before Marcus could take his shot, a police squad appear and start shooting at all three of them. Willie makes an escape with a pink stuffed elephant as Thurman's Christmas present. He escapes and drives back to Thurman's house with a convoy of policeman behind him. However, while trying to get to the front door, the police shoot him down.
The epilogue is told through a note Willie sends to Thurman. The note explains how he's going to be out of hospital soon, and will work as a police sensitivity guard as Thurman gave the police the letter, which proves Willie's innocence. Marcus and Lois are arrested while Sue is granted guardianship over Thurman and his house.
- Billy Bob Thornton as Willie T. Stokes
- Tony Cox as Marcus
- Brett Kelly as Thurman Merman
- Lauren Graham as Sue
- Lauren Tom as Lois
- Bernie Mac as Gin Slagel
- John Ritter as Bob Chipeska
- Octavia Spencer as Opal
- Cloris Leachman as Granny (uncredited)
- Alex Borstein as Milwaukee mom
- Billy Gardell as Milwaukee Security Guard
- Bryan Callen as Miami bartender
- Tom McGowan as Harrison
- Ajay Naidu as Indian immigrant
- Ethan Phillips as Roger Merman
- Matt Walsh as Herb (uncredited)
- Max Van Ville as bully
- Ryan Pinkston as shoplifter
- Curtis Taylor as Phoenix Security Guard
- Sheriff John Bunnell as Phoenix Police Chief
- Dylan Cash as Kid on Bike (uncredited)
Bad Santa, Zwigoff's fourth film, was his most mainstream, following the limited releases of Crumb and Ghost World. The original screenplay was written by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. Prior to filming, Ethan and Joel Coen and Zwigoff did rewrites on the script, although by WGA rules, they were uncredited.
The following pieces of music were used in the film:
- Nocturne No. 2 in E-Flat Minor, Op. 9 No.2 by Frédéric Chopin
- "Up on the House Top" by Benjamin Hanby, performed by Eddy Arnold; and by the Cherry Sisters
- "Jingle Bell Rock", performed by Bobby Sherman
- "Please Come Home for Christmas" by Charles Brown, performed by Sawyer Brown
- "Papa Loves Mambo" by Al Hoffman, Dick Manning, and Bickley Reichner, performed by Xavier Cugat and his orchestra
- "Holly Jolly Christmas" by Johnny Marks, perfomred by Burl Ives
- "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, performed by Dean Martin
- "Deck the Halls" performed by Boots Randolph
- "Jingle Bells" by James Pierpont, performed by Ricky Nelson
- "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" by Edmund Sears and Richard Storrs Willis, performed by The Symphonette Society
- "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Edward Pola and George Wyle, performed by Andy Williams
- The Sleeping Beauty (Valse) by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, performed by the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
- Jazz Suite No. 2 by Dmitri Shostakovich, performed by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
- "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, performed by Bing Crosby
- "Winter Wonderland" by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith, performed by The Symphonette Society
- Overture to The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini, performed by Zagreb Festival Orchestra, conducted by Michael Halász
- Anvil Chorus from Il trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi, performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
- "Seasons Freaklings" by Bunnygrunt
- "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" by Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry, Phil Spector, performed by Swag Music Group featuring Tom Chappell
- Habanera from Carmen by Georges Bizet
- "Silent Night" by Franz Xaver Gruber and Joseph Mohr
Box office 
The film grossed over $60 million at U.S. box offices and over $76 million worldwide.
Home media 
In the U.S, a theatrical version, an unrated version, a director's cut and a Blu-ray version (which includes unrated and director's cut) have all been released. According to dvdtown.com, the special features for the theatrical cut of the film included: a behind-the-scenes special, outtakes, and deleted scenes. The unrated edition was released June 22, 2004 and had all of the above plus a 'Badder Santa' gag reel and over seven minutes of unseen footage. The director's cut was released October 10, 2006 and contained the new version of the film (as Zwigoff originally intended it). It also had a new commentary (in addition to the rest of the features: outtakes, deleted/alternate scenes, and the behind-the-scenes feature). The Blu-ray version released November 20, 2007 contained the unrated version and the director's cut of the movie. Among its special features were director's commentary, an interview with Zwigoff and editor Robert Hoffmann, along with other features ported over from the previous unrated version's release in addition to a showcase feature.
On September 18, 2009, Billy Bob Thornton appeared on the NFL Network show NFL Total Access. He confirmed, after host Rich Eisen hinted, that there would be a sequel to Bad Santa, aimed for release by Christmas 2011. In March 2011, Thornton and The Weinstein Company confirmed that negotiations had begun for a sequel. A sequel has now been scheduled for December 2013.
- "Festival de Cannes: Bad Santa". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-12-05.
- Bad Santa (2003) – Soundtrack
- Bad Santa at Rotten Tomatoes
- "Bad Santa :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
- "Bad Santa (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
- Fleming, Mike. "Weinsteins And Miramax Strike Sequels Deal". Deadline.com. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
- Hopson, Travis (2011-03-20). "Punch Drunk Critics". Punch Drunk Critics. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
- Eisenberg, Eric (2012-02-14). "Billy Bob Thornton Says Bad Santa 2 Is Starting Up This Year". CinemaBlend.com. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
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- Official website
- Bad Santa at the Internet Movie Database
- Bad Santa at AllRovi
- Bad Santa at Box Office Mojo
- Bad Santa at Rotten Tomatoes