Bad Santa 2, 2016.
Directed by Mark Waters.
Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Brett Kelly, Tony Cox, Kathy Bates, Christina Hendricks, Ryan Hansen, Jenny Zigrino, Jeff Skowron, Cristina Rosato, Mike Starr, and Octavia Spencer.
Fueled by cheap whiskey, greed and hatred, Willie teams up once again with his angry little sidekick, Marcus, to knock off a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve.
I actually had hope that Bad Santa 2 might shockingly surpass my already very low expectations during the opening, where director Mark Waters (Mean Girls) and his staff of four writers seem to be self-aware that this movie doesn’t need to exist and is pissing all over a perfect ending. This is realized by having everyone’s favorite sex-crazed, foul-mouthed Santa Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton returning with the assholish charm that made the original a classic) piss all over a nice family photograph of him, clueless yet adorable Thurman Merman (played once again to blindingly stupid perfection by Brett Kelly), and now ex-girlfriend Sue (Lauren Graham). Things didn’t work out (movie code for “we couldn’t get the whole cast back together” because of Willie’s extremely obnoxious drunkenness, and we are asked to roll with it. Why? This is Hollywood dammit, the land of unnecessary comedy sequels that are being capitalized on a decade too late just to make a quick buck off of nostalgia. So Willie, keep figuratively and literally pissing all over the ending to Bad Santa!
The point is that this meta-joke was honestly a tad bit smarter than anything I expected coming into Bad Santa 2, but oh Saint Nicholas does shit drop off from the North Pole all the way to the South Pole almost instantaneously. Throughout the entirety of the movie is the lingering impression that the writing is trying desperately hard to be as crude and offensive as possible without any of the jokes serving relevance to the characters or the story. There is no charm, no magic, no Christmas spirit to be felt from this second helping of holiday jeer; just nastiness without much of a point.
What’s truly sad is that the very few legitimately funny moments of the film are essentially rehashes of jokes from the first. There’s a great scene where Willie must don the Santa suit once more and deal with those little rascals sitting on his lap asking for gifts, only for him to give some rude humorous responses in return. It’s just as nasty as the rest of the film, but at least it is actually funny. Willie’s pure disdain for wearing the suit or anything to do with children is still darkly captured with another other over-the-top cynical performance from Billy Bob Thornton.
However, there’s just not much to get into when the same story as the original is being rehashed nearly beat for beat. This wouldn’t necessarily be an atrocity if the supporting characters this time around were actually as outrageously funny as their counterparts from the first (most notably Bernie Mac and John Ritter). For the sequel, we have a completely bland villain stealing money from the Chicago charity he is running (that Willie and company obviously are in town to rob), and a bunch of overly kinky/sexual female characters that are written to a point far beyond degradation.
Don’t get me wrong, Sue (Willie’s aforementioned love interest from the original) was no angel herself, but at least she was grounded as a human being and had a believable personality. Furthermore, she even tried helping Willie better himself as a person. What I’m trying to say is Christina Hendricks (The Neon Demon, Drive, so many other good movies), an extremely talented actor, is completely wasted and given nothing to do besides get fucked from behind in a dirty alley. There is one scene where she tries taking Willie to an AA meeting, giving the vibe that if the original was about showing Willie some Christmas spirit and finding humanity, maybe this entry will have him finally getting on the wagon. Nope, this writing staff doesn’t know how to pen a filthy minded yet useful woman. As previously mentioned, the script is only focused on busting out every obscene word in the dictionary, insults, and non-stop sexual humor. 90% of those jokes fall flat.
By far the biggest and most unforgivable mistake of Bad Santa 2 (besides the fact that it’s not very funny) is the decision to have Thurman written out of a majority of the movie, just to explore the rotten relationship between Willie and his even more horrendous mother (Kathy Bates). Perhaps this did look good in the script, but Billy Bob Thornton simply doesn’t have as good chemistry with her as he does with Brett Kelly and Tony Cox (returning as the voice of reason yet easily prone to betrayal dwarf friend). Showing us the roots of how Willie became the depraved person he is isn’t the issue. It’s actually a good idea, but the execution just isn’t there, most likely because none of the talents that were directly responsible crafting Bad Santa into the comedic masterpiece it was and still is (director Terry Zwigoff, executive producers Joel and Ethan Coen, character creators and writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa) have returned.
The original Bad Santa is a nasty piece of work, but it has an underlying charm regarding the true meaning of Christmas, along with the ability to have viewers howling with laughter from every piece of dialogue. It proves that there is hope in even the most cynical and depraved old curmudgeon bastards. It’s a black comedy diamond that assuredly gets routine play in the houses of many families during the Christmas season. No one will say any of these things about Bad Santa 2; it’s a worthless addition . It’s like Willie said when Thurman found Asprin in his advent calendar – “Well they can’t all be winners”.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★