Bad Santa – 5 stars

It’s difficult to resist a dissipated, alcoholic, and profane Billy Bob Thornton as a Santa Claus who works department stores to crack their safes, especially when he meets an eternally cheerful but clueless grade schooler (Brett Kelly) left alone with his addled grandmother (Cloris Leachman) in their tony Arizona suburban ranch home.  In true Christmas spirit, Thornton discovers the boy is essentially alone and defenseless, moves right in, raids the liquor cabinet, and trysts with a slutty barkeep (Lauren Graham) who has a Santa fetish.

Santa is so bad he rips open the kid’s Advent calendar to get at some chocolates.  He pisses himself on the job.  He beats up children.  He engages in sodomy in the dressing rooms of the Big & Tall Women’s section of the department store.  He looks in the cherubic faces of all those blessed children who revere him and  . . . well, see for yourselves.

Is there redemption for Bad Santa? Kind of. But Thornton is a character who could endure three Dickensian ghosts and conclude, “Eh. Fuck ’em.”

Bad Santa is the ultimate anti-Christmas flick and a holiday favorite.  Thornton is brutally acerbic (especially when dealing with a host of bratty kids on his lap), Graham is indescribably hot, and John Ritter and Bernie Mac (as mall security and management) contribute significantly to the humor (Ritter’s repulsion/fascination with Bad Santa is inspired; what a loss he was).

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