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Bad Santa Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 25

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Isn't up to much of anything besides pretending that swearwords and snot-nosed insults, served up by Santa with an almost institutional monotony, aren't just naughty. They're -- big joke! -- incorrect.

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  • 60

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    I wanted to believe in Bad Santa. At least half of the time I did.

  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Michael Rechtshaffen

    Happens to be extremely funny -- at times sidesplittingly so -- thanks to Zwigoff's way with raw irreverence and Thornton's perfectly pitched, ready-for-anything performance.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    USA Today Mike Clark

    This is a filmmaker who instinctively knows that a shot of Santa sitting at a bar as Ricky Nelson sings Jingle Bells will be no-frills funny.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    A demented, twisted, unreasonably funny work of comic kamikaze style, starring Billy Bob Thornton as Santa in a performance that's defiantly uncouth.

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  • See all Bad Santa reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Too naughty for kids; nice for some grown-ups.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie, though it features a Santa Claus character and Christmas theme, is not for kids and may even be too much for some adults. It includes profanity, nonstop drinking and smoking, extremely explicit sexual references and situations, and graphic violence, including a suicide attempt, hitting below the belt, murder, and shooting. Note: This is a review of Badder Santa, an unrated version that was released on DVD and is available through Netflix.

  • Families can talk about dark comedies and raunchy humor. Do you think comedies are getting raunchier? What more recent comedies can you compare this to? Would this movie work with a more innocent brand of humor or not? Which movies are funny without the violent and sexual content?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Several characters are outright criminals who steal, con people, and even commit murder. The main character's specialty is safecracking. During the Christmas holidays, he poses as Santa Claus in order to rob department stores. He also steals a car, takes money from a residence's safe, and is overall a selfish, mean, reckless individual. However, the movie establishes him as an antihero whose actions are played for laughs. He later experiences an epiphany when he befriends a lonely boy and becomes an unorthodox father figure to him.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: Violence includes murder, characters being shot, attempted suicide. A man is killed when other characters conspire to murder him and then pin him between two vehicles. Police officers and a store robber engage in a gun battle. His partner, who flees the scene, is shot eight times by police, but survives. A lot of fighting, such as punching, kicking, shoving, and kicking in the groin. A man appears to be attempting suicide in his car in a garage, but he doesn't go through with it.

  • sex false5

    Sex: Very explicit sexual situations and references, borderline NC-17. A man and a woman -- both shown clothed from the waist up -- have sex in a car. They later have sex in a hot tub. A man and a woman have what is implied as anal sex in a department store's fitting room; their legs are shown under the door. A man hits on a girl during a pinball game; she is later revealed to be underage.

  • language false5

    Language: Extreme profanity and strong language throughout.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false5

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters drink and smoke throughout the movie. The main character is a belligerent alcoholic who regularly drinks to excess.