I had meant to do this post back when Donald was still doing his Christmarathon, but I never got around to it. Around the holidays, I can’t and don’t want to accomplish anything.
In recent years, Bad Santa (the unrated version) has become a perennial in my house; I watch it sometime around every Christmas. And it’s odd, because on the face of it, it seems like an anti-Christmas film, but it also has this very surprising sentimentality about it. I mean, the wooden pickle? That gets me every time!
Yes, it’s crass and mean-spirited, but it’s also charming and kind of hopeful. Though ultimately, I love it because it’s just so goddamn funny.
It’s also a bit sad, though, because two of the actors in this film (John Ritter and Bernie Mac) have since died, and both are on top of their games in Bad Santa. Ritter, especially, makes me laugh every second he’s on screen. His scenes with Bernie Mac in particular are just about the funniest scenes ever captured in celluloid. From the way he compares Tony Cox’s character to Billy Barty, except for “thin fingers. Not the fat sausage fingers,” to the way he screws up his face when Mac says, “Well, sure…Santa fuckin’ somebody in the ass…,” the delivery is epic, and it really makes you realize the world lost a great comedic actor who didn’t get enough roles like this.
But to be certain, the charm and most of the comedy of this film is found in the relationship between Thornton and the kid. As I type this, I’m literally cracking up out loud remembering the scene in the car when the kid keeps pestering him with weird questions, like how the reindeer sleep if they’re stabled next to the shop (answer: the elves only work during the day). Eventually, Thornton, who has been inventing one lie after the next, gets frustrated and asks him if he was dropped on his head, and the kid just can’t understand how he could be dropped onto his own head, prompting an explosion: “God damn it! Are you fucking with me?” It’s so wrong, but so funny.
Bad Santa is stuffed full to bursting with jokes, which is why it’s so surprising that there’s also a really solid narrative structure underlying it all. Yes, it’s a twisted narrative structure, in which the defining moment of character development for the protagonist is achieved through him beating the shit out of a bunch of kids, but it’s a solid narrative structure nonetheless. Thornton’s character is about as awful as they come at the beginning of the film, but it’s also clear that he’s a truly damaged human being, and somehow, the movie redeems him…a little.
Anyway, enough about that. Add this one to your holiday watchlist right next to It’s a Wonderful Life.
And on a completely unrelated note, yesterday’s post about The Expendables got me thinking about Jason Statham, and I remembered that he turned up in a cameo in Collateral as the man who delivers a briefcase to Tom Cruise containing information on all of the people the character is supposed to assassinate. I had always wondered if that was supposed to be Frank Martin of The Transporter, and sure enough, this assumption is even discussed on the Wikipedia page for Frank Martin.
Two things about this. First, it’s awesome that Frank Martin has his own Wikipedia page. Second, it’s nice to know I’m not the only huge nerd out there who ponders these sorts of things.
For the record, I think that’s Frank Martin. Why else would you get Jason Statham to do that cameo? Though it does bother me that he’s not wearing a black suit and tie. Mann should have gone all the way with it.
On another unrelated note, I have a pet peeve to get off my chest. What’s with bloggers who don’t respond to the comments on their blog? I don’t mean bloggers who respond to 50% of the comments or even 10% of the comments. I mean bloggers who respond to 0% of the comments. What’s the point of even maintaining a blog if it’s not for the purpose of engaging in discussion? I know that all bloggers are probably a little bit narcissistic, but if you’re using your blog as a forum for espousing your opinion without caring at all about the opinions of anybody else, then you’re at another level of narcissism from the rest of us.
Just my two cents on that.