It is a simple idea: exploit the sweetness of Christmas by being mean to kids.
Superimpose this on the old genre of bad man turns good through an unwanted role as parent. This works only because of extensive script doctoring, thanks to the Coen brothers. If you know their expertise in genre-bending, you’ll appreciate the skill required here.
The one joke gets tired, even though there are the required number of twists. What sustains this for me is the absolute commitment of Billie Bob. I just don’t like his ideas when he gets his way in other projects, but here (and in “Bandits”) he succumbs to the vision of others and throws himself into it.
His style of acting isn’t quite what we used to call “method” but it is immersion. Here, until the last formulaic sequence, he is.
Posted in 2005
Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.