One thing that separates people who aspire to be funny either as a writer or a stand-up comedian is that some people are fascinated by why something is funny but most people just don’t really care, they just laugh never appreciating or knowing why they laughed. Why is something funny and something not funny? Is this something that can be figured out, or is too complicated to figure out?
Over the years there have been many raunchy foul-languaged laden movies that have come out and most are just not funny because of the simple fact that constant cursing and being raunchy by itself is not funny. There has to be something more. So why is Bad Santa and the sequel Bad Santa 2 so very funny? Is it the fact that Billy Bob Thorton is just a great comedic actor or does he deliver the sounds and personality of a broken down drunken loser of a person capable of non-stop and believable cursing and raunchy sexual behavior better and funnier than anybody ever has? Is it the writing and the comedic timing and the perfect comedy chemistry of Billy Bob Thorton who plays Willie Soke, and Tony Cox who plays Marcus Skidmore? Willie and Marcus are partners in crime in this movie, almost exactly as they were in Bad Santa, released a long 13 years ago in 2003. Both of them are criminals who pose as Santa Clause in order to commit some sort of robbery at the company they work for. In this movie, Willie’s mother played very well by Kathy Bates gets involved with Willie and Marcus latest scheme to rob of all things a charity in Chicago. Kathy Bates portrayal of Willie’s horrible mother, leaves no no doubt as to why Willy turned out so badly in his life.
From the beginning of this movie, the dark and horrific squalor of Willie’s life as a drunken and miserable person who has no money, somehow translates, only because of the skill of Billy Bob Thorton, as a comedic scenario that at its lowest level of darkness, actually becomes funny in a very unusual way that has never been approached by any other comedy movie that I have seen. In my opinion, the most important ingredient as to why these Bad Santa movies are so funny is because of the use of extreme contrast. For me, the main reason why this movie works is because of the polar differences between the disgusting and miserable demeanor of just about everybody else in the film and Thurman Mermon, played by Brett Kelly. In both films, Thurman is an innocent, naive, and depressingly stupid kid who follows Willy around like he is the greatest person and friend in the world, only to be rudely pushed away and cursed at time after time. There is something about the tirade of foul mouth cursing that Willie does around Thurman that is so funny because of this extreme contrast between the two characters. The pathetic differences between Thurman and Willie is the main ingredient that has had me laughing as hard as I ever have in any comedy movie I have ever seen. Not only is the cursing effective, but the tirades are so long and at times so insane, you just can’t help but laugh. Not a normal laugh, but a low-level diaphragm-like laugh that is so rare in life and definitely the great majority of comedy movies.
Bad Santa and Bad Santa 2 are not movies for everyone, and perhaps not even an acquired taste. There is a ton of foul language, some disgusting acts and raunchy sexual scenes, but in the end, both of these extremely well done and unusual comedy films reach a level of funny and unusual that is worth seeing.
I highly recommend Bad Santa 2.