Bad Santa Director’s Cut—Buena Vista

Video: 4
Audio: 3
Extras: 3

I enjoy a good black comedy as much as anyone, but Bad Santa just didn’t work for me—and I can’t quite pinpoint why. It’s better than any recent holiday film that comes to mind. Billy Bob Thornton is outstanding as the truly distasteful Willie, a safe cracker who poses as Santa each year to pull off a master robbery. The movie’s ultimate triumph is that you find yourself caring about Willie by the end, not because he becomes much more likable but because his flaws are put into perspective as other characters’ true natures are revealed. Still, in the end, it just didn’t generate enough laughs to offset the cringes.

The new Director’s Cut fleshes out Willie’s relationship with the kid, as well as some other minor differences. The DVD features the same deleted/alternate scenes, outtakes, and making-of found on last year’s theatrical and unrated DVDs but adds a mildly interesting commentary track by director Terry Zwigoff and editor Robert Hoffman. The 1.78:1 anamorphic picture is clean, with lots of warm, inviting colors. Perhaps the film’s most successfully sarcastic element is its score, which comes to life well in the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

Executive producers Joel and Ethan Coen came up with the basic idea for Bad Santa but turned over the reins to Zwigoff and screenwriters Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. I can’t help but think that, had the Coens seen it all the way through, it would’ve found that difficult balance between dark and light that makes for a truly successful black comedy.