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Mercury Video Picks

Bad Santa

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Even though most kids do deserve a lump of coal in their stocking, not even the Mercury's cynical enough to recommend you rent Silent Night, Deadly Night this holiday season. In that despicable slasher flick, Santa was an axe murder. However, with everybody and his brother pushing eggnog lattes and singing Christmas carols, it does seem high time to screen some titles that put the fat man from the North Pole in his place.

Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1991)--A "special" from the monumental Blackadder British TV series. Rowan Atkinson reprises his title role as the black-hearted Edmund Blackadder--with a twist. Fine support from Baldrick (Tony Robinson), and Queen Elizabeth I (Miranda Richardson). You'll "Ho, ho, ho!" till your sides burst!

The Silent Partner (1978)--Forgotten '70s noir classic in which Christopher Plummer dresses as Saint Nick to hold up a crafty bank teller (Elliot Gould). What Plummer does to the teller, and his unfortunate girlfriend, is the stuff of bad-guy legend. Cool early script by L.A. Confidential director Curtis Hanson.

Comfort and Joy (1984)--Scottish director Bill Forsyth's sweetest film stars Bill Paterson as a goofy Glasgow radio DJ who loses his sexy girlfriend at Christmas. Helping distract him from his pain is a hilarious romp with "Mr. Bunny," and a bunch of ice-cream-pushing Mafiosos.

Trading Places (1983)--John Landis' most controlled film is a stylish class comedy, in which streetwise hustler (Edddie Murphy) switches roles with pompous stockbroker (Dan Aykroyd). Aykroyd's turn as a drunken Santa on a NYC bus is a beautiful moment.

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