Summaries

Bad Santa (2003)

Film and Plot Synopsis

Willie T. Soke and Marcus Skidmore are a criminal duo who pose as a department store Santa Claus and his elf assistant every year so that they may rob the store of its money and goods. Willie is a severe alcoholic who hates the world, but even worse, he hates himself and the fact that he has to dress up as Santa Claus every years. When Marcus calls Willie for one more job in Phoenix, Arizona, Willie reluctantly agrees. However, when Willie meets a beautiful bartender with a Santa fetish and a young, parentless boy, Willie finds that his miserable world might just be getting a little brighter.

‘Bad Santa’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Bad Santa (2003)Willie T. Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) is an alcoholic asshole. On any given day he drinks himself into oblivion. However, Willie is an exceptional safe cracker. Willie, along with his miniature assistant Marcus Skidmore (Tony Cox) are professional thieves who pose as a department store Santa Claus and his elf every year and then rob the store on Christmas Eve. Willie has little respect for himself, nor for his accomplices Marcus and his wife Lois (Lauren Tom). After their most recent job, Willie vows to stop drinking and to never put on the Santa suit again.

Eleven months later, Willie continues his alcoholic ways in Miami, where he spends his days drinking, committing petty thefts, and having sex with strippers. When he gets the call from Marcus, Willie forgets his vow and heads off to Phoenix for his next job. Marcus and Willie supplant the existing Santa at the Saguaro Square Mall with their duo act. The prudish department store manager Bob Chipeska (John Ritter) begins to regret his decision almost immediately when Willie has trouble controlling his temper and vulgar mouth. Nevertheless, Marcus convinces Bob to hire them.

Once employed, Willie begins a downward spiral of drinking, thieving, and random sex with any women who are interested. Soon after, Bob catches Willie having sex with a larger woman in a changing room and decides to fire both the Santa and his little elf. However, Marcus and Willie convince Bob that firing an African American little person will bring a tremendous amount of negative press to the department store, so they keep their jobs. Nevertheless, Bob reports his concerns to the security chief Gin Slagel (Bernie Mac). Slagel begins investigating the store Santa and his little elf.

One day, Willie is barely entertaining visiting children due to a drunken stupor. He is visited by an overweight boy named Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly). Thurman is not very bright and believes that Willie is the real Santa. Additionally, Thurman is constantly bullied by a group of teenage skateboarders. Thurman follows Willie one night when he goes to nearby bar. Willie is hit on by the bartender, Sue (Lauren Graham), who has a massive Santa Claus fetish. The pair have sex in Willie’s beat up car. After Sue leaves, Willie is attacked by random man (Ajay Naidu) who appears to hate Santa Claus. Thurman intervenes to help Willie and chases off the random man. Willie gives Thurman a ride home to thank him.

Once at Thurman’s house, Willie discovers that Thurman lives with only his senile grandmother (Cloris Leachman). Thurman’s mother has died and his father (Ethan Phillips) is in prison. Willie cases the house looking for things to steal once he becomes aware that there is not a competent adult in the house. He settles for stealing the Merman family BMW as Thurman waves vacantly goodbye. Once Willie gets to his run down motel room, he finds someone searching his room. He returns to Thurman’s house and decides to stay with the lonely boy and his grandmother to hide out. Marcus is angry with Willie for drawing unnecessary attention to himself. Slagel continues to investigate Marcus and Willie and discovers that Willie is living with Thurman. He researches the boy’s background and interviews Thurman’s father in prison, who knows nothing about Willie staying at the house. Slagel confronts Willie and Marcus about their operation rather than reporting it to the police. He blackmails the two holiday crooks and tells them that they can continue with the operation as long as he gets half the proceeds. Willie and Marcus are upset about Slagel’s request for the stolen money and items, but they don’t immediately see a way out of the security officer’s grip.

Willie and Marcus’ relationship continues to deteriorate as Willie’s drinking gets even worse. Willie begins showing up to work drunk, and Marcus and Slagel become fed up with Willie’s destructive behavior. Reaching the end of his rope, Willie attempts suicide by inhaling exhaust fumes from the tailpipe of the Merman car in the Merman garage. Thurman interrupts the suicide attempt and Willie gives him a suicide note which confesses his crimes to give to the police after he is gone. Willie notices that Thurman has a black eye, and after being informed that the boy got it from some skateboarder bullies, Willie stops his suicide attempt and beats up the skateboarding kids.

Meanwhile, Marcus and Lois refuse to give into Slagel and set a trap for him. Marcus feigns car trouble along the side of the road, and when Slagel stops to help them, Lois crushes the security officer between the two cars, killing him. Unaware of Slagel’s death, Willie prepares to celebrate Christmas Eve with Sue, Thurman, and Grannie at the Merman household. Willie interrupts the festivities to finish the robbery job with Lois and Marcus. Despite his half-ass attempts to sabotage the job, drunk Willie, along with Marcus and Lois burglarize the department store. However, Willie discovers that the store’s industrial size safe is supposedly unbreakable and is uncertain whether he can open it. Nevertheless, Willie opens the safe and then proceeds to look for a stuffed elephant, the one item that Thurman requested for Christmas from his “Santa”.

After finding the pink elephant, Willie is surprised to discover that Marcus and Lois intend to kill him having become fed up with his increasing carelessness. However, the police unexpectedly show up and surround the three criminals before Marcus can shoot Willie. The police, made aware of the robbery by Willie’s letter that he gave to Thurman, begin a running shoot out with Marcus and chase after Willie. The criminal Santa escapes and gets to his stolen car, desperate to get the stolen elephant to Thurman. Willie gets to Thurman’s house, but he is shot multiple times on the doorstep of the Merman house, in front of dozens of children.

Unbelievably, Willie survives. He is sent to prison where he writes to Thurman and sends him presents. A letter to Thurman informs the audience that Willie received a reduced sentence due to outcry of the general public over the Phoenix Police Department shooting an unarmed Santa Claus in the back in front of children and the fact that Willie wrote the letter that informed the police to the robbery. The letter also informs Thurman that Marcus and Lois ended up in prison, and that Sue ended up being made Thurman’s legal guardian. Willie ends by telling Thurman that he will see him soon. Thurman proceeds to work on his bicycle in the front yard when the skateboard bully approaches him. Thurman kicks him the groin and flips the bully the bird before riding off.

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Dimension Films released Bad Santa on November 26, 2003. Terry Zwigoff directed the film starring Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, Lauren Graham.

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