Bad Santa gets worse every time he trots out the same mean routine; does anyone at this late date recall a movie starring Billy Bob Thornton in which he doesn’t yell at retarded fucking kids and bark at their stupid parents? After coaching the Bad News Bears to ruin and flunking out of the half-witted School for Scoundrels, Thornton’s forcing kids to take a lap while pelting them with basketballs in Mr. Woodcock Among Mr. Woodcock’s poor pupils is a chunky lad who grows into a self-help guru (Seann William Scott) that looks a lot like Stifler from American Pie, and returns home in best-selling triumph only to discover his mom (Susan Sarandon, poor gal) has shacked up with Woodcock. And in a single instant, the self-help guru is self-helpless in the same house as his childhood tormentor, with whom he wars till the final few scenes in which all’s well that ends well—and if you think that’s a spoiler, you’ve clearly never been to a movie. Amy Poehler ekes out a smirk or two as a boozy broad publicist trying to keep her paycheck in check, but even the best gags feel like leftovers, again. In other words, Woodcock’s a strictly flaccid family affair. Bet you saw that coming too.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 4, 2007