Bad Santa

I went to see ‘Bad Santa’ with Rose and Duckman (a friend of hers from the archery club she goes to) and, bloody hell, it was a poor effort. What really gets me about it is that it could have been so much better. It was ostensibly a comedy, but its grim, psychological moments are a bit too frequent and stark to keep a jokey tone. Furthermore, it could easily be seen as a string of good comic ideas executed very badly. I could pick through the whole thing, scene by scene, and say how it could have been done better. And the people who direct films are supposed to be experts paid millions of dollars for their efforts…

In fact, the whole thing hinges on the humorousness of the idea of Santa doing the various deeds of the lead character, a drunkard safe-cracker named Willy who robs a department store every year under the direction of an Afro-American Little Person (sod it, let’s make no bones about it: a black midget – half the film hinges on the politically correct minefield this presents anyhow…). With this in mind, so many scenes could have been all the funnier just for the sake of having Willy in full Santa get-up and it strikes me that this may have been what writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa intended. Furthermore, director Terry Zwigoff seems to have no sense whatsoever of comic timing, leaving most of the gags to fall flat on their face through lack of impact.

The whole shebang could really have been improved by either making it into a bitter-sweet tale of a conman having his life turned around by the kid upon whom life has dumped its effluence, or by being the daft comedy portrayed in the trailers that we actually went to see the other night. If I had done the research on the internet before seeing it, I’d have taken it as a warning sign that it was released in America last year (and a brief reference on one site even makes me consider the possibility that it went straight to video) and we could have watched something else instead. Believe me, this film is not even worth a second glance – I regret encouraging the makers by giving them the money…

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~ by Scary Rob on 29 November, 2004.

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