Santa Smokes

Hate the holidays? You're in luck: Here's a bottomed-out Santa story so devoid of Yuletide cheer that it deserves a spot alongside David Sedaris's dyspeptic department-store elf and Terry Zwigoff's rude and crude BAD SANTA. Like countless other aspiring actors in New York City, jerky Johnny Jones (co-writer, -producer and -director Till Terror) knows that...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Hate the holidays? You're in luck: Here's a bottomed-out Santa story so devoid of Yuletide cheer that it deserves a spot alongside David Sedaris's dyspeptic department-store elf and Terry Zwigoff's rude and crude BAD SANTA. Like countless other aspiring actors in New York City, jerky Johnny Jones (co-writer, -producer and -director Till Terror) knows that somewhere there's a breakthrough part with his name on it, but the only callbacks he's been getting are dodgy roles in student films or projects involving no pay, no lines, full-frontal nudity and condoms. Johnny's girlfriend, Sue (Melissa Friedman), is fed up with his pipe-dreams about stardom and moving to California, and she's sick of the way Johnny flirts with his besotted gay roommate, Jason (Richard Glover). In addition to not having this month's rent on his Brooklyn apartment, Johnny also owes a steep gambling debt to a Mr. Johnson (Rynel Johnson). It a fit of desperation, Johnny answers an ad promising $100 a day to anyone willing to pass out fliers on the streets of Times Square while wearing a Santa suit. Instead of spreading commercial tidings and good cheer, Johnny smokes, berates passers-by and offers crack to tourists. Johnny's behavior is so belligerent that he's finally confronted by a fellow seasonal worker, a pretty young woman in an angel costume who's gotten herself a job passing out candy canes on New York City streets. Appalled by his behavior, Angel (Kristy Jean Hulslander) scolds him about his smoking, but accepts when he invites her out for a cup a coffee and a cigarette. On their second date, which they spend knocking back cocktails in an over lit diner while still in costume, Angel and Johnny are approached by a man (Crawford Mills) who offers them money if they'll come out to the suburbs and pretend to be Santa Claus and his angel for his two kids. They accept, but Johnny only sticks around long enough to threaten their little boy, sing a few carols and steal a pearl choker from the man's wife. When Angel later finds out what Johnny's done, she throws him out of her bed on onto the street, ending the only good thing that's going to happen to Johnny this holiday season. Seattle-born Terror (real name Till Schauder) and filmmaking partner Chris Valentien are both graduates of the Munich Academy for TV and Film, but their film has an authentically funky New York City vibe that many homegrown directors are unable to grasp. Using as tiny, unobtrusive crew and a mini digital video camera, they manage to capture the essence of the Big Apple in the only way possible: off the cuff and entirely on the fly.

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  • Released: 2004
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Hate the holidays? You're in luck: Here's a bottomed-out Santa story so devoid of Yuletide cheer that it deserves a spot alongside David Sedaris's dyspeptic department-store elf and Terry Zwigoff's rude and crude BAD SANTA. Like countless other aspiring ac… (more)

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