Friday, January 06, 2006

Shit happens when you party naked

Bad Santa really is great. It was different to what I'd expected, though.

I thought it was going to be a kind of inverse Christmas story, where no-one really learns anything or grows as a person, and the scrooge/loser doesn't have an epiphany of any kind.

Turns out this is a heartwarming Christmas tale, just like any of these. Hang on, you say - isn't the central character an alcoholic criminal masquerading as a santa? Isn't he rather short on redeeming features? And didn't I hear that this has the highest number of occurrences of the word "fuck" and its derivatives of any christmas movie ever?

Well, true these things may be, but it's still a classic christmas story. The fact that it's been told using more modern language and characters doesn't alter the main themes of "there's good in everyone", and the very christian "redemption is possible no matter what a wanker you've been."

To my surprise, there were some very touching moments in the film, and to my further surprise, I actually liked the cardiothermal nature of the plot, probably more than I would have enjoyed the more non-traditional deconstructionist theme I expected.

Billy Bob Thornton is excellent, although it would have been interesting to see how it came out with two of the other potential leads: Larry David and Bill "motherfuckin', ghostbustin'-ass" Murray. I can quite easily imagine someone like Larry in the role, but I find it more difficult to see Bill Murray as Willie.

The late John Ritter makes a relatively brief, but hilarious appearance - not someone I've ever rated highly before.

The best of all, though, is Lauren Graham as the girl with a Santa fetish. I've always loved the Gilmore Girls (no I'm not embarrassed to admit it) and their caffeine-fuelled superdialogue, but this was something a little bit different. It's always nice to see actors outside the roles you've typecast them in.

In short, I liked this very much, but not entirely for the reasons I thought I would. Looks like a touching, heartfelt, highly offensive and extremely funny film all in one is possible after all. Perhaps another case of everything the Brothers Coen touching turning to gold?

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