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Badder Santa - Unrated Edition  (2003)


Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, Brett Kelly, Lauren Tom, John Ritter, Bernie Mac

Director: Terry Zwigoff

Rating: R

Distributor: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Release Date: June 22, 2004
Review posted: June 30, 2004

Spoilers: None


Reviewed by Dennis Landmann




You'd better watch out - Santa Claus Willie T. Stokes (Thornton) is coming to town and he doesn't care if you've been naughty or nice. Willie's favorite holiday tradition is to fill his sacks with loot lifted from shopping malls across the country. But this year his plot gets derailed by a wisecracking store detective (Mac), a sexy bartender (Graham) and a kid (Kelly) who's convinced Willie is the real Santa Claus!




Bad Santa is a hilarious black comedy with enough good/bad jokes, profanity, and a somewhat skewed heartwarming story. Funny or not, at least it gets one thing right: being offensive. At least 150 variations of the f-word are uttered, but that didn't affect me from enjoying the story and the performances. Several scenes are pretty mean and vulgar, but director Terry Zwigoff (Ghost World) succeeds at showing us (in fun form) a Santa who isn't nice, a man who practically lives on booze without regard or signs of compassion for many people.


Billy Bob Thornton impresses, and young actor Brett Kelly is awesome, always keeping a straight face even though Thornton's Willie is mostly an obnoxious ass. Willie's partner in crime is played by Tony Cox (most memorable as Shonte Jackson the limo driver in Me, Myself & Irene); he does a fantastic job conveying the aggravation of cleaning up after Willie, motivating him, and staying ahead of the game. In fact, I laughed the hardest during his scene in the boxing gym that involves a punch to the crotch. Bernie Mac's appearance is too light, although John Ritter's final feature film appearance is a good one. Lauren Graham of TV's Gilmore Girls makes a sexy impression as a lonely girl who fancies herself some Santa skin.


This review is based on Badder Santa, an unrated version of the film that incorporates some five minutes of "naughty" footage, whatever that means. The new stuff is mostly scene extensions comprised of, among a few other things, more explicit (but not really) sexual innuendo. There's at least six more seconds of Willie humping the girl in front of the pinball machine, and so forth. The additional scenes don't improve on the theatrical version, however. It's kind of fun to see more sex-related stuff and profanity, but it's not




Buena Vista presents Badder Santa in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors are bright and clean. Image quality looks pretty nice without major faults. Some images look soft. Definition looks good, while sharpness is average. Several instances of grain are evident, but compression artifacts do not appear. Black levels and dark tones look good, but are inconsistent. Overall, quite a nice presentation that's perfectly alright. Optional subtitles include English.




Buena Vista presents Badder Santa in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround. Dialog is clear and easy to understand. I especially like the clarity with all the profanity and jokes. Much of the soundtrack is located in the front, but the two front speakers do a very nice job of emitting the sound; positional audio works well. The presentation also gives the songs and music score a good time. This is not the best surround sound experience you'll have, but it's an overall good presentation.




Well, for a film that performed surprisingly well at the box office late last year (a total of $60 mil domestic) I was expecting the DVD to feature better bells and whistles than what's available on this "unrated version" of the film, entitled "Badder Santa". Instead we get a selection of rather forgettable material. An audio commentary by the director and the cast (especially Thornton and Cox) could've been genius! But no such thing to much disappointment.


There are deleted and alternate scenes, two are kind of funny, the other one ain't. At a total of six minutes, we get a scene with Sarah Silverman (School of Rock, TV's Greg the Bunny), and three alternate takes of a confrontation between Willie and a security guard at the mall. Mild fun, but overall nothing special.


Next is Bad Santa: Not Your Typical Christmas Movie, a 10-minute behind-the-scenes special composed of film clips and short interviews with the director and assorted cast and crew members, including actors Thornton, Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, Bernie Mac, and Brett Kelly, and producers Sarah Aubrey and John Cameron. This is all standard fare, though there are two interesting pieces of trivia learned from it.


Exclusive to this "unrated edition", but not really worth the hype, is the 2-minute Badder Santa gag reel. There's a little too much goofiness happening here that's not all too funny. Eh. The outtakes, however, are very funny, comprised of mistakes and flubbed lines, lasting about four minutes. Rounding out the extras are previews/sneak peeks for Scary Movie 3, The Ladykillers, and My Baby's Daddy.


The 93-minute feature is organized into nineteen chapters. Inside the keepcase DVD is a paper insert that lists scene selections.




Badder Santa is simply a tiny but more raunchy, which is just fine, and those who saw the film in the theater will want to check out this "unrated" DVD. Video/audio quality is fine, and the extras are pretty much forgettable. Still, Badder Santa comes recommended. It's a funny film.




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