Bad Santa

Just about all I did yesterday was I sat on my parents’ sofa and ate and watching DVDs all day.  In the morning I watched "Escape From New York."  It was set in the not-too-distant future – 1988, that is.  Manhattan is a prison, and tough guys like Snake Plissken are sentenced there.  The President’s plane is hijacked, and in a moment reminiscent of 9/11, it’s flown straight into a building.  The President survived the crash because he was inside the ridiculous presidential pod, but some lowlifes have abducted him.  He’s got some vital information on a cassette tape.  Snake is recruited to save the President’s life and thus save the world.
It wasn’t so exciting, but it had a good cast, with Kurt Russell as Snake, Lee Van Cleef as Hauk, Ernest Borgnine as Cabbie, Donald Pleasence as the President, Isaac Hayes as the Duke, Harry Dean Stanton as Brain, and Adrienne Barbeau as Maggie.  Kurt Russell is exactly the same in this movie as he was in "Death Proof" – he hasn’t changed a bit in 27 years.  Lee Van Cleef looks a lot older than he did in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."  Ernest Borgnine seems pretty lively for a guy who’s about seventy.  Adrienne Barbeau shows a bit of age in her face.  She doesn’t act too well, but she does take a heroic stand and fires a gun at the bad guys, although she misses.
I thought the ending fell flat and was kind of stupid.  John Carpenter did the music, and he’s not exactly a Bernard Herrmann or an Ennio Morricone.
The second movie of the morning was "Casino."  It was a Martin Scorsese film from 1995, and it had those Scorsese trademarks, like long tracking shots, crime figures, guys getting whacked, and a deteriorating relationship between Robert DeNiro and a woman.  There were times when the film felt like "Raging Bull" set in Las Vegas.  One of the most fascinating parts of the movie is Robert DeNiro’s character Sam Rothstein’s description of what goes on in the casino.  There’s a lot of narration, mostly from Rothstein, but also a bit from Joe Pesci’s character Nicky.  Sharon Stone has the best moments of her career in this movie, I think.  She is Sam’s love interest, and she has a fatal friendship with a coke addict named Lester Diamond.  Comedians like Don Rickles, Alan King, and Dick Smothers are in the cast.  The movie is long at almost three hours, but it’s pretty absorbing, and it doesn’t feel like a long three hours.
After lunch, I watched "The Iron Giant."  The movie was directed by Brad Bird, known for his work on "The Simpsons" and various Pixar movies.  It was about a boy who discovers and befriends a giant robot that eats metal.  It’s Maine in 1957, so children in school are instructed to "duck and cover," and a beatnik is around at the junkyard working on his art.  It’s an amusing movie, and the animation looks very good.  Some of the voices are from Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., Vin Diesel, Cloris Leachman, John Mahoney, and M. Emmet Walsh.
The last movie of the day was "Bad Santa," a subversive Christmas movie in the tradition of "Gremlins."  Billy Bob Thornton is Willie, the drunken department store who curses at the kids and has sex with women in the changing room.  He is the Back Door Santa of the song.  His partner in crime is Marcus, a black midget elf, who also curses a lot, but he has enough discipline to control himself in front of the kids.  He directs his venom at Willie.  With Marcus’ ability to crawl through vents and Willie’s ability to crack safes, the pair gets together annually to make one big score during the holiday season.
Lauren Graham plays Sue, the bartender with the Santa fetish.  She does have one sex scene in the jacuzzi that is reminiscent of the classic "Showgirls" scene.  Bernie Mac is the store detective Gin.  John Ritter is Bob Chipeska, the guy who hires Willie and Marcus.  Cloris Leachman is Grandma, not credited but hilarious in one scene in which she seems to be dead.
I thought the movie was funny, but not side-splitting.  You’ve got Santa puking in an alley, cursing a lot, stealing things, beating people up, insulting everyone in sight, having sex with big women, and being a self-centered lowlife.  It’s a refreshing change of pace from "It’s a Wonderful Life," but I didn’t think it was consistently funny over the course of a whole movie.  It was something like "Borat" in that sense.  This Santa operates from Phoenix, and not the North Pole, and he delivers presents not to all the children of the world, but just one, but that one delivery is quite funny.  This was a movie that made my Christmas this year a little merrier.
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