Usually Christmas films have the bonhomie of the season coupled with the goodwill-to-all-men message pushed to the fore. This is the meaning of Christmas to these films and thus are more than able to hang saccharine, feel-good fairy tales on the Yuletide hook. Bad Santa’s relationship to Christmas is more complex. Christmas creates the opportunity for the heist, Christmas – and its hiring of temporary department store Santas (and most importantly their elves) gives the bad guy an opportunity for theft.

The problem with Bad Santa is that this is not Christmassy enough. So running parallel to this our Bad (Tempered) Santa is also shown the meaning of Christmas. That he does not capitulate at the first hint of cheer is to the credit of the film. That he does eventually capitulate is its undoing.

Well actually its obvious add on ending is its undoing. The ridiculous final scenes as a man who has cared for no-one in his life (and cod-psychologists will be happy to hear that is becoz he was never cared for himself) near kills himself to deliver a present could be better. Namely if the film end when clearly it was meant to. A few homilies about consumerism aside, Bad Santa is dark fun, but is only dark when you consider it as a Christmas film. Its half a NutraSweet rather than a pack of icing sugar. But its still sweet.