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Film: Bad Santa

Bad Santa is a 2003 American Black Comedy film directed by Terry Zwigoff and produced by The Coen Brothers.

Willie Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) is a drunk Jerkass safe cracker who along with his midget accomplice Marcus has a yearly routine of getting jobs as a Mall Santa and Elf respectively during the holidays and robbing the mall's safe on Christmas Eve after closing time. During one such stint, Wille meets a kid (who is mostly referred to in the movie as "The Kid") who inadvertently saves him from being beaten up. After a run in with the mall's unscrupulous security chief (Bernie Mac) posing as a police officer, Willie, his girlfriend Sue and Marcus move in with The Kid, who lives alone with his senile grandmother (his mother is dead and his dad is in jail for embezzlement). Willie starts to warm up to the Kid and starts acting as a surrogate father...of sorts.


This film contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Willie
  • Abusive Parents: Willie had an abusive father. He did teach him how to crack a safe, though.
  • Anything That Moves: Willie, pretty much.
  • Asian Rudeness: Lois.
  • Asshole Victim: Gin.
  • Auto Erotica: The first time Willie and Sue have sex.
  • Bad Santa: Duh.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The cops arrive just in time to stop the robbery and save Willie from being killed by Marcus. Though problems still arise because Willie forgot that he tipped them off and they didn't know he was the one who did so at the time.
  • The Bully: Thurman deals with one who Willie proceeds to beat within an inch of his life.
  • Chekhov's Gun: About halfway through the film, Willie has the kid deliver a letter to the police. At the end, it turns out to contain all the details for the robbery, which allows them to appear and arrest Marcus.
  • Child Hater: Willie is one at first.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The kid.
    The Kid: "Now I don't want an elephant at all. I want a gorilla named Davy for beating up the skateboard kids who pull on my underwear. And he can take his orders from the talking walnut, so it won't be my bad thing."
  • Cluster F-Bomb: According to IMDB, the word "fuck" is used 159 times (170 in the unrated version). In a Christmas movie.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: at the beginning, the movie's feel is very cynical (what with dealing with Mall Santas and all), but by the end, while keeping the salty language, the movie's more like "hey, it's Christmas after all".
  • Determinator: After fleeing from the police, he reaches the kid's house in order to give him his present. Even after being shot eight times, he still tries to crawl to the door with the toy elephant.
  • Driven to Suicide: About halfway through the movie, Willie tries to kill himself through carbon monoxide poisoning. Fortunately, he snaps out of his funk when the kid comes to check on him.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Willie tips the cops off about the robbery and gets Marcus arrested. He's given a job as a sensitivity trainer for the police, and also secures a capable adult to watch over Thurman. He also gets the kid a few presents, and Thurman in turn now knows how to handle the bullies.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Willie may be a bastard, but hurting children is low, even for him.
  • Free-Range Children: The kid wanders around the city and even takes regular trips to the mall all by himself. Justified in that the only person around to raise him is his senile grandmother.
  • Good Feels Good: For a given value of good anyway, but Willie comes to this conclusion when he beats up some bullies who had been harassing the Kid.
  • Groin Attack: When teaching the kid how to fight, the kid ends up kicking Marcus right in the crotch. This causes Marcus to retaliate against the kid in the same fashion. When Willie raises protest about punching a child in the crotch, Marcus yells "fuck you Willie!", and punches Willie in the balls - and then Willie punches Marcus in the balls. The scene ends with all three lying on the ground groaning in pain (and trying to kick each other in the balls).
    • When Marcus and Lois kill Gin at the end by smashing him between two cars, they seemingly impale him right in the crotch, but it's off camera so it's hard to tell.
  • Harmless Villain: Willie's an expert safecracker and he's been involved in a lot of mall robberies in the past, but his drunken antics make him more of a liability to The Plan than anything else.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Willie at the end.
    • Unlike most Christmas films though, his personality is still foulmouthed and sarcastic. But now a better person.
  • Insult Backfire:
    Gin: I could stick you up my ass, small fry!
    Marcus: Yeah? You sure it ain't too sore from last night?!
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Starting as a pure Jerk Ass, Willie eventually becomes this.
  • The Mall: Willie's preferred target.
  • Mall Santa
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Willie in one of the mall dressing rooms - in more ways than one.
  • Morality Pet: The kid serves as this for Willie. Curiously enough, Zwigof removed most of the scenes with he and Willie in the Director's Cut, making it shorter than the theatrical release. The ending is still one massive Pet the Dog sequence for Willie.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Marcus makes this clear when he murders Gin Slagel.
  • Papa Wolf: Willie evolves into somewhat of one, to the point where he gives the bullies who harass The Kid a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • Parental Abandonment: The kid's mother is dead and his father is off exploring the mountains (read: in prison).
  • Refuge in Audacity: Its a Christmas film about a child-hating, alcoholic, foul-mouthed mall Santa who is plotting to rob a store on Christmas Eve, and that's for starters.
  • Satiating Sandwiches: "What is it with you and fixing fucking sandwiches?"
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Willie - not a surprise considering who his actor is.
  • The Snack Is More Interesting: Bernie Mac eating an orange.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: When Willie and Marcus first arrive at the mall in Phoenix the song "Let it Snow" is being played, even though it is warm and the sun is out. Given the Black Comedy nature of this film, this is likely intentional.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Thurman as evidenced by the well-deserved Groin Attack he inflicts on a bully.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Marcus is an African-American with dwarfism. A fact that he uses to his advantage when faced with possible termination.
  • Unfortunate Names: The kid, Thurman Merman.
  • Villain Protagonist
  • Volleying Insults: Between Gin and Marcus when they have to handle Willie passing out in the mall.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Marcus, especially if said child kicks him in the balls. Willie calls him out on this.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once the safe was cracked and he got everything he wanted out of the mall, Marcus decides it's time to off Willie since he's no longer reliable.

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The Bad News BearsTropeNamers/FilmBatman
At Five in the AfternoonFilms of 2000 - 2004 Basic

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