With Christmas coming in less than a week I found that it was time to start to get my quota of seasonal holiday films over with. I decided to go with my favorite holiday subject, Santa Claus, and all of the myths that the media creates about him. Since I was in a rather cynical mood, I decided to focus on films where Santa was a little less than pure.

Wednesday Double Feature - Flawed Santa - Fred ClausThe first film on my list, Fred Claus, starring Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti, was one of those films I hadn’t heard anything that really impressed me besides Paul Giamatti’s performance as Santa Claus.

Vaughn plays the title character, Santa Chaus’s estranged older brother. (In this setting all of Santa’s family are just as immortal as he is). Fred’s been going through some tough times. In exchange for some help from his brother to fund his latest business venture, he’s invited to help out at the family business.

Meanwhile, Santa’s a little stressed out as the North Paul is under observation by an efficiency expert who threatens to shut down the North Pole.

This film was pretty much predictable and by the numbers with nothing but current pop songs on the soundtrack and only Giamatti making it worth the time.

Wednesday Double Feature - Flawed Santa - Bad SantaThe next film on my list, Terry Zwigoff’s  Bad Santa has Billy Bob Thornton plays Willie T. Soke,  the worst mall Santa known to man. He’s a cynical, misanthropic drunk who is rarely seen sober. He clearly hates this job, in fact, there’s only one reason he’s doing it. It’s all a scam. He and his partner Marcus, (Tony Cox) do the mall Santa routine, casing the joint and on Christmas Eve they rob the mall’s safe. They do this every year in different parts of the country.

This year  Willie meets a slightly autistic boy who is fixated on him as Santa.  The Kid helps Willie after a close call with the Mall’s head of security, played by Bernie Mac, searching his apartment, lets Willie use his home as a place to hide. Will this soften the heart of this worst of Santas?

This was a fun dark film with a bitter sense of humor but it’s Thornton that makes it work in his performance as the wonderfully despicable Willie. It does a good job satirizing the materialism of the season while somehow pulling a moral out of all that dark cynicism.