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(Review originally written at 27 December 2008)

This is one rather special and certainly original Christmas movie. It still has the Christmas spirit and message in it but it delivers it in a never-seen-before package. Never has there been so much profanities and sex in a Christmas movie before and most likely there never will be again. It all works out well though for the movie and it makes its comedy and originality stand out.

Billy Bob Thornton is a Santa Clause unlike any other. He swears in front of children, drinks a lot, enjoys anal sex with women and he basically doesn't care about anything. Besides, he's a thief and an expert at safe-cracking. All very convenient, when you as a Santa Clause in shopping mall have access to the safe, after closing time. But as you could expect this all slightly changes, once he meets a young, fat, not too bright kid, who starts to regard him as his second father. This sounds very sentimental and also very predictable for a Christmas movie but due to the movie its approach you can never accuse this movie of not being original. The sentimentality and messages of the movie all work out so well because of this.

It's not a laughing-out-loud type of comedy but more of a subtle one, that is funny due to its very profanity and contrasts it shows with the usual Christmas movies. Quite a daring project but yet the movie never raised any objection and protest because of the simple reason that it's such a fine movie. Truly finally a Christmas movie that got aimed completely toward the adult audience.

Of course part of the reason why the movie works out so well is Billy Bob Thornton's performance, for which he even received a Golden Globe nomination but lost to Bill Murray, for his role in "Lost in Translation". Ironicaly enough Bill Murray was first signed on for the lead role in this movie but later dropped out to do "Lost in Translation" instead. The movie also truly has one fine supporting cast with actors like Tony Cox, John Ritter and Bernie Mac involved. The acting feels really natural within this movie, which is really thanks to the approach of director Terry Zwigoff.

It's a quite slowly told movie, that never pretends to be more than it is and doesn't feature any big sequences. Instead really little and subtle sequences, with some static camera-work and long shots, with often some nimble editing involved to capture even further the emptiness and also the subtle absurd-ism of the movie.

It's like a Wes Anderson-Christmas movie, only done better and way funnier than something he has ever done in his career!

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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