Bad Santa DVD: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

This is one of the funniest films Billy Bob Thornton has ever done.
  • OVERALL
    4.0
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
This is one of the funniest films Billy Bob Thornton has ever done.
THE BAD
It hasn't been that long ago that this film played theatrically, yet we seem to have a few new versions of this film.
THE FEATURE
Terry Zwigoff's Bad Santa follows the exploits of Willie T. Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) and his sidekick Marcus (Tony Cox) as they get into department stars playing Santa Claus and an Elf. Then they proceed to crack the store's security and rob them for as much as they can. Things take a different turn this year when Soke befriends Therman Merman (Brett Kelly) and they actually form something of a bond. That is if you can consider Soke's drunken rantings to be something akin to charm, which in this movie Thornton deftly pulls off. Rather than give away the whole movie or explain things scene by scene, this is a film that has it's heart in the right place, it just takes great pleasure in misplacing it from time to time.

I loved Bad Santa when I saw it in the theater, and I really enjoy owning it on DVD. Terry Zwigoff has the kind of style that makes his humor accessible. It is adult but at the same time kids could watch this movie and find themselves laughing (even if they aren't quite sure why).
THE EXTRAS
Audio Commentary

This is with director Terry Zwigoff and editor Robert Hoffman. These two guys sit back and watch this movie in this new commentary track. As I didn't listen to the old commentary, I really can't compare the two. I am happy to have heard this one mainly because I don't know if it's good to hear a filmmaker talk about their film so soon after completing it. However, these guys have a lot of fun talking about the production, letting us know where the various ideas came from, and what a talent like Billy Bob Thornton brings to a movie like this.

Deleted, Alternate Scenes and Outtakes

Normally, I don't look that forward to these kinds of things mainly because on a lot of DVDs bonus and alternate scenes are superfluous. These are bit different because they come from a Terry Zwigoff movie. The scenes deal more with the characters and their situations throughout the film. The outtakes are moments of forgotten or blown lines and definitely worth checking out. All in all, there's an eclectic assortment of bonus scenes on this DVD that add to the experience contained in the film.

Behind-the-Scenes Featurette

A look at the making of Bad Santa is presented here. We are treated to the creators of the film, as well members of the cast and crew, as they talk about this movie and what it was like making it. They discuss specific scenes, what attracted them to the project, and what it's like working in the environment the film was created in.
THE VIDEO
Widescreen - 1.85:1 - Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions. This new DVD looked pretty darn nice on my small TV screen. Having seen it in the theater, then once on a big TV, and now again on a smaller one, I feel that I can speak about the look of this film. Why it works for so many people is (I think) because Zwigoff has given us a warm looking film that seems like a normal Christmas movie. However, it's when you start unwrapping the gift that you find out what's really inside.
THE AUDIO
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Spanish Subtitles. This is one of those movies where you wait with baited breath to hear the next thing out the character's mouths. Whether it is Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, John Ritter, or anyone else, the writing in this film is top notch and as such it's head and shoulders above many other films. The audio layout didn't really grab me that much, but like the picture, it does have a certain feel to it that works well with the film.
THE PACKAGE
The main stars of this film are displayed on this front cover which continues the green and red look of the film itself. The back cover lists out what Bad Santa is about, it offers up technical specs for the film, a Special Features list, and some images from the movie. All in all, I'm not too sure why Dimension choose to release this movie again but I guess it's good for people who don't already have it to put a supped up version in their collections.
THE FINAL WORD
I remember when I first saw this movie. It was around Christmas time and Columbia brought the film out and (I think) managed to capture the holiday audience. While I am sure that many were surprised at the "Christmas Film" they had walked into, with it's $60 million dollar gross it doesn't seem like many were offended enough to walk out. In fact, when I saw it in the theater, I remember seeing a family with little children sitting together and I wondered, "Do they even know what this movie is about?" It isn't like it's full of violence or anything but it's pretty darn vulgar for a Holiday film. Anyway, I sort of monitored them throughout the movie and they stayed the entire time.

So what does that mean? Well, I think when you make an intelligent film like Bad Santa, if you can market it correctly, it will not only find an audience but it will exceed expectations as well.

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