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Bad Santa 2
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Ho-Ho-Horrible. . ."
1 stars

This year, holiday depression has a name—and a running time—and that name is “Bad Santa 2,” the patently unnecessary and desperately unfunny sequel to the hilariously vulgar 2003 comedy that went on to become a cult favorite among those who rather stick their nether regions in a box fan than sit through “White Christmas” again. Sadly, even that would doubtlessly prove to have more entertainment value than this bummer.

In that film, you will recall, Billy Bob Thornton found the role of his career as Willie Soke, a dissolute safecracker whose plans to rob a department store (which involved him working as the store Santa, clearly a form of torture for a misanthrope of his standing) were thrown asunder thanks to the arrival of a lonely and slow-witted kid by the name of Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly) who inexplicably latched on to him. That film worked for any number of reasons, including a.) the incredibly profane and wildly funny screenplay, b.) Thornton’s fully committed performance as Willie and c.) the way that director Terry Zwigoff handled the material in such a way that when the more sentimental material came in towards the end, it worked in tandem with all the raunch instead of feeling as if it had been trucked in from another movie.

Thirteen years down the line, Willie’s station in life has not improved and as the story opens, he is stumbling through a series of half-assed suicide attempts when he is contacted by his former cohort, the treacherous midget Marcus (Tony Cox), with a proposition to help pull off a $2 million score in Chicago robbing the safe of a children’s charity run by a corrupt d-bag (Ryan Hansen). It is only when Willie arrives in Chicago that he learns that the mastermind behind the plan is none other than his hated mother (Kathy Bates), a woman who suggests nothing less than Medusa herself, minus the smart haircut, of course. As the various parts of the scheme fall into place, complications arise when Willie starts taking up with the d-bag’s outwardly genteel and inwardly frustrated wife (Christina Hendricks) for the occasional quickie behind a dumpster. Things are further thrown into disarray with the unexpected arrival of the now-adult but still dopey Thurman, who attaches himself to Willie in order to serve as his unexpected conscience at precisely the moment when he is in no need of such a thing.

The main problem with “Bad Santa 2” is the one that plagues nearly every comedy sequel and that is the inescapable fact that unless the filmmakers choose to go off in a completely different direction, the end result is almost certainly going to wind up repeating a lot of the jokes from the first film due to a presumed lack of strong new material—if the new jokes were any good, one would think they would have found their way into the original. That is certainly the case here as the original film’s central conceit—the juxtaposition of holiday cheer with jokes so raunchy as to make the average longshoreman blush—is trotted out here without screenwriters Johnny Rosenthal & Shauna Cross or director Mark Waters ever figuring out a new angle for the material that might have made it seem slightly fresher. This is the same problem that Thornton has here—with no new shadings to his character, he can do nothing more than offer up the usual array of bawdy bon mots with what could politely be described as a minimum of enthusiasm. As for the others actors, they are either repeating themselves as well (Cox and Kelly, whose slow-witted act is just kind of depressing now that he is an adult) or completely wasted (such as Bates and Hendricks, who still has yet to score a movie role with even a sliver of the drama and character that she found every week on “Mad Men.”)

Apart from the presumed financial incentive—the original did pretty well in theaters and was a big hit on home video—why was “Bad Santa 2” even made in the first place? I know plenty of people who loved that film, myself included, but was never aware of any clamoring for a continuation to find out what happened next. In the grand scheme of things, it probably doesn’t make much of a difference because once this one tanks and quickly disappears from theaters, it will fade away so quickly that most moviegoers will have forgotten that it even existed unless that happen to stumble upon it on cable. Too bad because even a commensurate screw-up and lowlife like Willie Soke deserves better than “Bad Santa 2.”

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=30293&reviewer=389
originally posted: 11/23/16 12:35:17
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User Comments

5/03/17 morris campbell the first one sucked 1 stars
12/02/16 James Remar Still 100 better than anything the British film industry has ever made ! ! !. 3 stars
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  23-Nov-2016 (R)
  DVD: 21-Feb-2017


  DVD: 21-Feb-2017

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