While you’d hardly suggest that it makes maxmimum mileage out of its concept, there’s still a heck of a lot of fun to be had with Bad Santa. The simple idea of a drunken, miserable in-store Santa, peeing himself while kids are prattling off their wish list (and then helping himself to, er, one of his helpers) is both cruel, twisted and brilliant. And, truthfully, if you were making the film, would you be looking to cast anyone other than Billy Bob Thornton in the title role?
For Bad Santa is very much at its best when spending time with Thornton, and when he’s also allowed to do what he does best. It’s a great comedy performance, which makes it all the more curious that the film structured around it doesn’t make more of him. Instead, things end up getting a little bogged down, meaning Thornton and his sidekick elf Marcus (played by Tony Cox) have to continue to work hard to keep the film going. That they do, however, and it’s fair to say that Bad Santa is an unusual, often downright hilarious antidote to the mawkish Christmas movies we’re used to getting.
The Blu-ray presentation isn’t bad, although we don’t seem to have got the extended cut here. The US release gave you a version to choose between the theatrical version and the Badder Santa edition (and truthfully, how many would choose the former when presented with that), but here, you’re dropped straight into one version of the movie. The picture and audio quality you’d describe as quite good, and it’s unfortunate for Bad Santa that it got spun just after we were blown away by Wall-E and The Dark Knight in high definition. It’s adequate work, but not much more than that.
The extras package, held over from the DVD, is quite varied, even if there’s a feel of filler about it. A nine minute featurette on how Bad Santa isn’t your typical Christmas movie is full of happy, upbeat talking heads, effectively going on about how perfect they all are. The material is dated by them talking about the late Bernie Mac, making no note of the fact that he sadly passed away earlier this year. There are people paying tribute to the late John Ritter.
There are also some deleted scenes, the highlight of which is Thornton on the store Santa training course. These aren’t well presented, though, and there’s nothing that’s particularly missed from the final cut. You also get a few minutes of bloopers, and trailers for Hancock, 21, Men In Black and Blu-ray in general.
While not an obvious choice for the high definition treatment, Bad Santa is a decent enough disc, just not one compelling enough to force an upgrade. It looks and sounds better than the DVD, and the film deserves to be spun every couple of Christmases. But it may be more of a luxury than a necessity.
The Film:The Disc: