Want more recommendations for your family?
Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Very few positive messages here. Willie learns that taking care of others can be just as rewarding as taking care of himself ... sort of.
Positive Role Models
Several characters are outright criminals who steal, con people, and even commit murder. Willie's specialty is safecracking. During the Christmas holidays, he poses as Santa Claus in order to rob department stores. He also steals a car, takes money from a residence's safe, and is overall a selfish, mean, reckless individual. However, the movie establishes him as an antihero whose actions are played for laughs. He later experiences an epiphany when he befriends a lonely boy and becomes an unorthodox father figure to him. He stands up to Thurman's bullies, but he's still no role model.
Violence & Scariness
Violence includes murder, characters being shot, attempted suicide. A man is killed when other characters conspire to murder him and then pin him between two vehicles. Police officers and a store robber engage in a gun battle. His partner, who flees the scene, is shot eight times by police, but survives. A lot of fighting, such as punching, kicking, shoving, and kicking in the groin. A man appears to be attempting suicide in his car in a garage, but he doesn't go through with it.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Very explicit sexual situations and references. A man and a woman -- both shown clothed from the waist up -- have sex in a car. They later have sex in a hot tub. A man and a woman have what's implied as anal sex in a department store's fitting room; their legs are shown under the door. A man hits on a girl during a pinball game; she's later revealed to be underage.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Extreme profanity and strong language throughout. Swearing includes many uses of "f--k," "motherf-----r," and "s--t," as well as "pr--k," "d--k," "p---y," "t-ts," "a--hole," "hell," "bitch," "goddamn," "for Christ's sakes," "oh my God," and "sweet Jews for Jesus."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink and smoke frequently throughout the movie. Willie is a belligerent alcoholic who regularly drinks to excess. His love interest, Sue, is a bartender. Willie is seen throwing up from drinking as well as passed out.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Bad Santa, though it features a Santa Claus character and Christmas theme, is not for kids and may even be too much for some adults. It includes profanity, nonstop drinking and smoking, extremely explicit sexual references and situations, and graphic violence, including a suicide attempt, hitting below the belt, murder, and shooting. Note: This is not a review of Badder Santa, an unrated version that was released on DVD and is available through Netflix. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
There's no question that viewers will find Bad Santa crude and irreverent. But while some might be shocked and disgusted, others will find themselves laughing all the way through this unconventional Christmas tale. Indeed, Willie emerges as the ultimate antihero. Those who aren't utterly offended might even find themselves rooting for Willie, who is portrayed as more of a washed-up, disorganized loser than a genuine menace. He starts out as a Grinch, but seems to be headed for his own version of redemption. A scene where Willie and his girlfriend help decorate the home for Christmas is surprisingly sweet.
In his final film role, the late John Ritter shines as the uptight department-store manager. Lauren Graham brings just the right mix of freewheeling sexiness and earthy compassion to her role Willie's love interest, and Bernie Mac is solid as the store's deadpan, scheming security guard, and Cox plays a great straight man to Thornton's over-the-top Willie.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate