Bad Santa

  • 15
  • Terry Zwigoff (2003)
  • US / Ger
  • 88 min
Bad Santa
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Film Review
Reviewed By
3 out of 5

If Christmas brings out the "bah, humbug" in you, then this pitch-black comedy from indie film-maker Terry Zwigoff (Crumb, Ghost World) will be right up your alley. Flouting the sentimental spirit of the season and then some, it stars Billy Bob Thornton as Willie T Stokes, a grouchy, alcoholic safe-cracker who works as a department store Santa so he can rob his employers with the help of his "elf" sidekick (Tony Cox). On one last job, the foul-mouthed, determinedly child-unfriendly Stokes becomes involved with a Santa-loving barmaid (Lauren Graham) and a lonely, bullied, overweight boy (Brett Kelly) who is apparently immune to the river of profanity coming out of Stokes's mouth. Sounds like a recipe for a feel-good ending, but Zwigoff resists that temptation, and with Thornton giving a terrific deadpan performance, this is the perfect antidote to the usual saccharine Christmas confection.

Plot Summary

Black comedy starring Billy Bob Thornton as Willie T Stokes, a foul-mouthed, alcoholic, safe-cracker who targets shopping malls by working as a holiday Saint Nick. As he and his elf-playing sidekick attempt to perform the scam one last time, Stokes becomes involved with a Santa-loving barmaid and a lonely, overweight kid.

Cast and crew


Willie T Stokes
Billy Bob Thornton
Tony Cox
The Kid
Brett Kelly
Lauren Graham
Lauren Tom
Bernie Mac
Bob Chipeska
John Ritter
Hindustani troublemaker
Ajay Naidu
Milwaukee Mom with photo
Alex Borstein
Cloris Leachman


Terry Zwigoff

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
Columbia TriStar
Swearing, sex scenes and nudity.
Available on DVD and BluRay
Released 5 Nov 2004
Certificate 15