Bad Santa
R1 - America - Dimension Films
Review written by and copyright: Cameron Murray & Noor Razzak (2nd November 2006).
The Film

"Bad Santa" is a dark comedy about a down and out criminal (Billy Bob Thornton) who each festival season (that's right you can't say Christmas, it's offensive) dons his fake white beard, red jacket and pants and proceeds to hustle a store manager into giving him a gig as a store santa. After getting the job he and his midget accomplice (Tony Cox) then proceeds to rob the store on Christmas eve, so you know your regular happy go lucky Christmas tale of doing good to your fellow man here. The story itself unfolds with standard predictability just with a slightly disguised revelation that the down and out Billy Bob Thornton realizes the folly of his ways and tries to do the right thing all be it in his own cussing way.
That's right if you are offended by swear words I seriously recommend you see this movie because it will offend the f*** out of you. Every second line has some sort of profanity in it, not just your regular foul language the creative kind as well. Expressions that would otherwise be clean and pure are converted into sentences that would make a prisoner/builder/sailor blush (not necessarily because they were offended but more because they would feel as if they were unable to match the creative flair with which this movie uses expletives. I don't know any prisoner/builder/sailors as they tend to run in different social circles)
The style of this movie is nothing special with nothing that really catches the eye and makes you think 'wow this is a feast for the eyes'. The soundtrack is somewhat stereotypical of any Christmas movie, even if this is far less than a stereotypical Christmas movie.
The acting is average, Billy Bob Thornton plays a drunk, Bernie Mac is almost funny and Tony Cox is small, but has a big performance. None of these things seemed to be a stretch for these actors.
I don't know if I wasn't in the mood for this movie when I saw it, if it is just an average movie, I know people who think it's absolutely fantastic, but for me it was a pretty standard movie with a few redeeming moments that kept you moderately interested throughout but never made you sit up and take notice.

This release is a shorter Director's Cut version of the film. According to the director the changes between this version and the Theatrical Release are:

- The voice over from the start of the film has been removed.
- The scene where Thornton teaches the Kid boxing has been deleted from the director's cut.
- Some scenes have been shortened by a few seconds (not sure which exactly as they didn't go into specifics)
- Some scenes have been moved, one example is the Kid's first appearance when he gets off the bus to go visit Santa has been moved backed a few scenes. The Scene when a drunk Thornton stumbles to his chair and punches the fake donkey in the head has also been moved.

Overall the tone has changed to make the Thornton character a little more unfavourable and the scenes where he is starting to like the Kid have been pushed to near the end of the film because the director thought that his character would not immediately like the Kid and therefor the end scene with him trying to deliver the pink elephant has more impact.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 this anamorphic transfer isn't as good as I was expecting. The image wasn't as sharp and as detailed as a film of its age should be, I also found it a little on the dark side with some film grain prominently on display during night scenes and interiors. I also found that skin tones were not natural and verged on the red side at times. This isn't the worst transfer I've seen but if Buena Vista continues re-releasing films (this being the third version available) then perhaps they should consider giving viewers a decent transfer, that would be an ideal place to start.

Audio

A single Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track is included for this release and for the most part it serves the film well. The dialogue is clear and distortion free, although directional effects and overall depth is somewhat limited considering this is a comedy. Some atmospheric surrounds are used to place the viewer in the mall and the music makes effective use of the surround channels, otherwise this track isn't going to impress anyone. It does it's job and is non-intrusive.
Optional subtitles are available in English for the hearing impaired and also in Spanish.

Extras

Buena Vista Home Entertainment has included a new audio commentary, a series of deleted and alternate scenes, a featurette, some outtakes and a collection of bonus trailers. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up is an all new feature-length audio commentary by director Terry Zwigoff and editor Robert Hoffman. In this track Zwigoff is somewhat surprised he got a chance to release his version of the film, he comments on the creative decisions the studio made to the film that he never liked, one of which was the voice over at the start which is now removed, also the studio edits showed the Willie character take a liking to the Kid Thurman a lot sooner than Zwigoff intended. He and his editor comment on the minor changes that shift the character's tone slightly more to the unfavorable. Comments are also made about test audiences, locations, cast and story elements. He openly talks about parts that were rewritten and changed by various people including the Joel and Ethan Coen. Hoffman comments on the use of classic music and using music and sound to heighten certain scenes. For the most part this is a screen-specific track that occasionally has gaps of silence, but for the most part it's the highlight extra on this disc and makes for some interesting listening.

A series of 4 deleted and alternate scenes is included, these can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' option, the scenes included are:

- "Santa Trainer" which runs for 1 minute 42 seconds and is a scene at a Santa School, with comedienne Sarah Silverman teaching the class how to get a smile from the kids.
- "Willie Leaves Department Store" runs for 1 minute 49 seconds, this is a reel of three different versions of the scene where the security guard holds back Willie from leaving and questions him if he's stolen anything.
- "Florida Robbery" runs for 3 minutes 38 seconds, Willie steals a car from a restaurant valet and proceeds to break into the car owner's house.
- "Screaming Baby" runs for 1 minute 39 seconds, Marcus places a crying baby on Willie's lap as he gives him flack for being a worthless drunken Santa.

An EPK featurette entitled "Behind-The-Scenes Special" follows and runs for 9 minutes 29 seconds, this is a promotional clip that has no real value other than trying to sell the film to audiences. The clip covers in brief the script concept, finding a director and studio to make the film as well as casting the various roles in the film.

A collection of outtakes is next and runs for 4 minutes 1 second, this reel features some unused footage as well as the occasional line flub, missed cue and what can essentially be called a blooper as well as some minor improv moments that end in actors cracking up.

Rounding out the extras are a series of bonus trailers for:

- "Keeping Up With The Steins" which runs for 2 minutes 22 seconds.
- "Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" which runs for 2 minutes 13 seconds.
- "Lost: Season Two" which runs for 1 minute 32 seconds.
- "Kinky Boots" which runs for 2 minutes 2 seconds.
- "Anti-Piracy" spot which runs for 48 seconds.
- "Grey's Anatomy: Season Two" which runs for 1 minute 47 seconds.
- "Scrubs: Season Four" which runs for 1 minute 27 seconds.
- "Desperate Housewives: Season Two" which runs for 57 seconds.

The first five previews listed are start-up previews and can be skipped.

Overall

The Film: C+ Video: C+ Audio: B Extras: C+ Overall: C+

 


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