Santa Claus isn't always such a jolly old elf after all. In fact, sometimes he can be a real creep. At least in the movies.You better watch out -- because
As Christmas approaches and visions of sugarplums begin to dance in our heads, let's look at 10 big-screen St. Nicks who deserve some serious coal in their stockings.
10. Billy Bob Thornton, "Bad Santa" (2003)
No list of this type would be complete without Billy Bob Thornton's portrayal of booze-soaked grifter Willie in 2003's bitter chestnut "Bad Santa." If you see this guy coming down your chimney, forget the milk and cookies -- it's probably best to call 911 instead.
9. Dan Aykroyd, "Trading Places"(1983)
Watching Dan Aykroyd's "Trading Places" character, commodities-brokerage director Louis Winthorpe III, fall from grace was a present in and of itself. But when a down-and-out Winthorpe dons the red suit, things get downright ugly. First he menaces a couple of women on the bus with his scuzzy look and surly demeanor, then he (unsuccessfully) tries to off himself in the street with a pistol. Very un-Santa-like behavior.
8. Ed Asner, "Elf" (2003)
Ed Asner's portrayal of Santa Claus in the 2003 Will Ferrell film "Elf" might not be the most evil St. Nick on the block, but even Asner's considerable acting skills couldn't keep a little bit of Lou Grant's gruff demeanor from creeping out through the beard. Plus, he tells Ferrell's character, abandoned would-be elf Buddy, that his biological father is on "the naughty list" -- and is it really Santa's business to drive a wedge between a boy (OK, developmentally stunted man) and his dad?
7. Rickey Smiley, "Friday After Next" (2002)
In this "Friday" sequel, comedian Smiley plays a robber who, dressed up as Santa, breaks into Craig and Day-Day's house on Chistmas eve and jacks their presents and rent money. Which is very much not in line with the holiday spirit -- but it least it sets the ensuing hilarity into play.
6. Patton Oswalt,"A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas" (2011)
Yes, we know -- it's Santa's job to bring every good little girl and boy what they want for Christmas. But when that little boy is Kal Penn's Kumar, and a bag of kush tops his wish list, perhaps it's best to just say, "Ho, ho, no!"
5. Bill Raymond, "The Ref" (1994)
Sure, Denis Leary may be the star of this yuletide spoof -- in which a cat burglar kidnaps a fractured family and gives them a tough-love lesson on Christmas cheer. But spare some love (or disdain) for Bill Raymond as George, the family's resentful neighbor who wanders around in a Santa suit and sucks down hooch instead of milk and cookies because, as he notes, he's lactose-intolerant.
4. Paul Giamatti, "Fred Claus" (2007)
Perhaps it's to Giamatti's credit that he so convincingly plays a modern-day, sarcastic Santa Claus. But his world-weary demeanor still fails to fill us with Christmas cheer.
3. Jeff Gillen, "A Christmas Story" (1983)
For many children, visiting a department-store Santa can be a traumatizing experience, and Jeff Gillen's portrayal in this holiday classic pretty much sums up why. Impatient, vaguely menacing and prone toward shoving kids down a chute with his boot when he's grown weary of them, this St. Nick definitely sends a chill down kiddies' spines -- and it has nothing to do with the temperature on the North Pole.
2. Bill Goldberg, "Santa's Slay" (2005)
Former pro wrestler Goldberg plays a particularly bad Santa. And boy, does he do so with panache, stabbing one unlucky reveler's hands into a table with steak knives, setting a girl's head on fire and trying to crush a pair of teenagers with a Zamboni. He definitely goes on the naughty list.
1. James Belushi, "Jingle All the Way" (1996)
John Belushi's bro might have found his ultimate success as put-upon husband Jim Orenthal in "According to Jim," but in this Arnold Schwarzenegger, family-oriented film, Belushi plays a shopping-mall Santa with a not-so-jolly-at-all sideline: Leading a band of counterfeit-toy makers. Not cool, Santa. Not. Cool.
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- Billy Bob Thornton