Run time: 96 mins
Billy Bob Thornton remains as entertaining as ever as this modern festive classic hits 20.
Willie is a lowlife alcoholic who works as a department store Santa every year. But the job is a front for a scam he runs with Marcus, a dwarf who poses as an elf but is actually the brains of the operation. Or maybe that’s Marcus’ shrewish wife? This year’s job is in an anonymous mall in Phoenix, where they quickly annoy the staff (fastidious manager John Ritter and cynical security chief Bernie Mac). Then Willie makes two new friends: an attractive barmaid who has a thing about Father Christmas, and a nerdy kid who adopts "Santa" and takes him home for his own.
A breath of fresh air at a time when movies try far too hard to keep everyone unruffled, it remains the go-to alternative adult comedy this time of year. A perfectly cast Thornton delivers a terrific performance as a drunken loser completely uninterested in any redeeming qualities he might have.
Mean and nasty without ever compromising for a second, this is exactly how a Christmas switch-up movie should be.