Bad Santa (2003)

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Released 5-Apr-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation-Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2
Dolby Digital Trailer
Deleted Scenes
Trailer-White Chicks, Suspect Zero
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 95:30
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (59:05) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Terry Zwigoff

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Billy Bob Thornton
Tony Cox
Brett Kelly
Lauren Graham
Lauren Tom
Bernie Mac
John Ritter
Ajay Naidu
Lorna Scott
Harrison Bieker
Alex Borstein
Dylan Charles
Billy Gardell
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music David Kitay

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    "I'm an eating, drinking, sh***ing, f***ing Santa Claus."

    With a confession like that from the leading character, Willie Stokes, it's fairly obvious that Bad Santa is not your normal good-natured Christmas fare, even though it is a comedy. And parents be warned - this film did not get an MA rating because of one or two uses of the F word and a few flashes of skin. It's lewd, crude, ribald, disturbing and slightly perverted at times. Thankfully it is also downright hilarious, offering a take on the festive season so seldom seen. Oh and there are around 170 uses of the F word among many other expletives in the 95 minute running time. Like I said - it's rated MA for a reason.

    Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) is probably the most vile, disgusting, wretched, good-for-nothing no-hoper ever to don the big red Santa suit. He's a hard-drinking and smoking sexual deviant womaniser who also happens to be a career criminal for good measure. If there is a vice to be found, Willie has been there and done that. He respects nothing and nobody and hates kids - just the type of guy you'd want playing Santa.

    Every Christmas, Willie and his partner Marcus, a dwarf (Tony Cox), get a job as Santa and his elf (you work out which one is which). This guise allows them to commit the perfect crime each Christmas by robbing the department store, living the high life for the next year on the proceeds before doing it all again. And who would ever suspect Santa and the cute little black elf (even though he looks somewhat bizarre with white plastic pointy ears). On Christmas Eve, after the store has closed, the pair use their inside knowledge to disable the alarm system, allowing Willie to do the one thing he is good at - safe cracking, while Marcus goes shopping for luxury items for his girlfriend.

    This ruse has worked well for many years, but this year it's going to be different. Willie's drinking problem is slowly getting the better of him, much to Marcus' disgust. This drinking, coupled with Willie's inability not to fornicate anything that moves (he has a penchant for large women found in the big and tall section of the department store), is proving a pain in the proverbial for Marcus.

    Enter Thurman (Brett Kelly), an 8-year-old nerdy kid more often than not referred to as just "The Kid". He's a loser who is constantly bullied and has no friends. He virtually lives by himself (he does live with his senile grandmother - but she doesn't seem to know what year it is). "The Kid" needs something to believe in, and for some reason he picks Willie, whom he seems to think is really Santa and hopes that maybe they can be friends. Willie sees the Kid and the Kid's house as a chance to do a bit more thieving and moves in with him while working at the local department store. Throw in Sue (Lauren Graham), a bar maid with a serious sexual Santa fetish who hooks up with Willie and a bent store security detective (Bernie Mac) and Willie and Marcus' plan for some easy money over Christmas seems unlikely.

    This is comedy at its darkest, and is unlikely to appeal to everyone. Directed by Terry Zwigoff (Ghost World, Crumb) and with the names Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo) as executive producers you should have some idea of what to expect. It takes all the usual Santa and Christmas conventions and turns them on their head several times over. There is no sentimentality here. No glossy ending. There is relentless dialogue with plenty of swearing, fart and urine jokes, small and large people jokes, and plenty of perversion. It is also quite amusing with several lines of dialogue destined to become classics, though most are far too blue to be repeated here.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    This is quite a decent video transfer that offers plenty of warm natural colour but only slightly above average amounts of detail.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. This is the same aspect that appeared in cinemas.

    The image is sharp enough, just, with only the barest traces of edge enhancement. It is not the sort of film that cries out for lots of close up detail and the warmth of the colour palette more than makes up for the lack of exquisite rendering. There are no problems with shadow detail, despite a considerable amount of the film occurring in darker areas as the boys are robbing the various department stores. There is no low level noise.

    As mentioned, the colour palette is bright and vivid when required, capturing the bright red of the Santa suit with ease. Skin tones are consistent and blacks are solid. Overall this is one of the warmest looking transfer I have seen for some time.

    There are no apparent compression artefacts, and thankfully the transfer is free from any aliasing or other film-to-video artefacts. I noticed a handful of small spots in the form of film artefacts, but these are barely worth worrying about.

    Only two subtitle tracks are present, both of the English variety. They aren't bad, with almost all of the profanity accurately displayed.

    This is a dual layered disc that is formatted RSDL. The layer change occurs quite late in the film at 59:05. The placement is right on a scene transition and is virtually invisible.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is only one audio track available on this disc. It is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at the superior bitrate of 448 Kb/s. It is impressive though not overly immersive. It packs enough punch when required, with a couple of action style scenes, complete with flying bullets, opening the soundstage up quite wide.

    Dialogue is precise and very well mixed. There are certainly no audio sync problems.

    David Kitay's score has a suitably Christmassy feel to it.

    The surround channels are used, though not to the point of overkill. The most notable use occurs during the shopping centre scenes and the climactic shoot-out in the mall.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Introduction

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Dolby Digital Trailer


    4:02 of bloopers and goofs from the cast. It looks like they all had a good time making this.

Deleted Scenes

    8:58 of deleted scenes. It should be noted that some of these deleted scenes are the ones that were removed for the R rated American version and as a result many of them are actually found in the Australian MA release of the film. So they aren't really deleted at all.

Featurette - Bad Santa: Not Your Typical Christmas Movie

    A pretty much stock standard making-of that clocks in at 9:30. Features brief interviews with director Terry Zwigoff, producers John Cameron and Sarah Aubrey and actors Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Bernie Mac, Lauren Graham, and Brett Kelly. This again highlights the many laughs that appear to have been had during the making of this movie.


    Bonus trailers for White Chicks (2:00) and Suspect Zero (1:40).


    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There are two versions of Bad Santa available in Region 1. The first is the regular R rated version that was shown in cinemas (still with the original name of Bad Santa) and the other is the "unrated" version which contains around seven minutes of additional footage (this is referred to as Badder Santa). From what I can gather, the Region 4 MA version is almost identical to the Badder Santa unrated version. See the censorship section for more information regarding the differences.

    The Region 4 disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 "unrated" disc misses out on:

    There is no compelling reason to favour either disc. Just make sure if you do pick up the Region 1 title you get the Unrated version.


    Bad Santa is not going to be to everyone's taste. It's lewd and crude, brazenly ribald and crosses the line of decency on more than one occasion. It is also rip-roaringly funny, with some of the craziest lines of dialogue ever to be mouthed by the man in the red suit on film. It is almost the role that Billy Bob Thornton was born to play.

    A word of warning though - this is most certainly not a film for the children. Exposure to a film like this at Christmas time is likely to leave the little ones with a permanent scar.

    The video and audio quality of the disc are up to the usual high standards set by Columbia Tristar, though the video is perhaps a little softer than usual.

    The extras are a bit thin, but are still entertaining.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Friday, April 01, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
R1 Unrated *Spoiler* - Geoff
Bloody good work Columbia Tri-Star!!! - Daria Nicolodi's Fringe
Don't forget John Ritter! - Worst Nightmare
This version was *not* shown theatrically... - Anonymous
DO NOT buy this version - Anonymous