a.k.a. Badder Santa (The Unrated Version)
*/**** Image B Sound A- Extras B
Bad Santa (Director's Cut)
**/**** Image B+ Sound A- Extras B
starring Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, John Ritter
screenplay by Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
directed by Terry Zwigoff
by Walter Chaw With a premise and producing credit for the Coen Brothers and direction by Ghost World's Terry Zwigoff, the film with the best pedigree of the season is Bad Santa, making its failure particularly depressing. Its tale of ace safecracker and dangerous drunk Willie (Billy Bob Thornton), brought on board an annual mall Santa scam by criminal mastermind Marcus (Tony Cox), isn't all that inventive upon closer scrutiny, with Zwigoff's interest in the peculiarities of loneliness exhibiting themselves this time as caustic to no end and displeasingly bitter. Worse, there are two shots in the film that appear to be direct cribs of Coen Brothers shots--the first a crash zoom into an alarm clock, the second a collapse by Willie identical to a shot of Frances McDormand falling into bed in Blood Simple; what alarms isn't the instinct to borrow from innovative filmmakers, but rather the feeling of desperation that flashy camera movements in an otherwise statically shot film indicates.