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Double Feature: BAD SANTA, 2003, Miramax, 98 min. Director Terry Zwigoff’s hysterically bold, underground variation of MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, with Billy Bob Thornton as a foul-mouthed, alcoholic con man posing as a mall Santa, who teams up with his friend Marcus (Tony Cox) to rob the store just before Christmas. Thornton is reminiscent of W.C. Fields (only drunker, and worse to children!) in this rare intelligent adult comedy. Featuring Brett Kelly as “The Kid,” and the late, great John Ritter and Bernie Mac.
TRADING PLACES, 1983, Paramount, 118 min. Dir. John Landis. Eddie Murphy proved that his debut performance in 48 HOURS was no fluke with this follow-up comedy hit. Murphy plays a street hustler, and Landis regular Dan Aykroyd is a stockbroker; both men’s lives are turned upside down when wealthy brothers Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy decide to figure out whether nature matters more than nurture and manipulate the opposites into exchanging lives. Filled with quotable dialogue and expertly crafted by John Landis, it includes a plethora of winning supporting performances from Jamie Lee Curtis, Denholm Elliott, Paul Gleason and Jim Belushi (as, in a nod to Landis’ debut film SCHLOCK, a guy in a gorilla suit!).