Bad Santa 2: Film Review
Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Christina Hendricks, Tony Cox, Brett Kelly
Director: Mark Waters
Christmas comes every year.
And with it, there's a large portion of the world who are cynical and unimpressed as the commercial holiday kicks into gear, with its enforced jollity and OTT happiness.
The original 2003 outing of Bad Santa was the perfect antidote to the festive cheer - a crude, crass and comical caper that pitted a foul-mouthed thief and his dwarf friend against the festive season. Coupled with Terry Zwigoff's writing and Thornton's not giving a sh*t Santa, Bad Santa was near perfect holiday fodder, destined to take the shine off the saccharine season.
Unfortunately, Bad Santa 2 is the complete opposite; a piece of trashy cinema that plumbs the depths of depravity and somehow manages to mine deeper in its attempts to garner some jollies.
This time around, Billy Bob Thornton's beer-soaked Willie Soke is contacted once again by Marcus Skidmore (Cox) to help him crack open a safe with millions within. The kicker this time is that the safe is housed in a Chicago charity organisation, run by Christine Hendricks' Diane, a former alcoholic turned good. Ditching the innocent Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly, once again providing the naive simpleton approach), Sokes sets out to crack the safe and start again after being suicidal. But the kicker is that the con-job is being pioneered by his white trash estranged mother Sunny (Bates)....
Released 13 years almost to the day of the first film, Bad Santa 2 is distinctly difficult to love.
Much like its main star, who spends a disproportionate amount of time soaked in the booze, it's hard to see how anyone will get any laughs from this if they're sober. Every single punchline mines low hanging fruit and somehow manages to dig even deeper, ensuring the final outcome is a cloyingly annoying mix of depravity and puerile stupidity.
To be fair to the cast, they embrace this wholeheartedly, with Thornton once again proving to the antithesis to the normal dwellers of the red Santa suit. His deplorable and despicable antics prove fertile ground for some base jokes, but there's a real hint of tragedy about this man who can't get off unless he's called Santa and who starts the film by literally pissing on the past and trying to hang himself.
Equally prone to some kind of depression allegory is Kelly's Thurman Merman, a man-child whose outlook on life is clearly disconnected from the real world and whose eternal jollity comes naturally and provokes nervous laughter when anyone else would be calling for mental intervention.
The original wore its toxic despising of the enforced holiday period like a badge, a kind of honest heart on sleeve truth seldom acknowledged about the holiday period. This sequel, with its irritating desire to annoy with vulgar humour feels like a real let down for an attempt to follow a much-loved anti Christmas classic tradition.
Bad Santa 2 is one present under the Christmas tree that nobody cinematically will want; sure, some may get a perverse kick out of moments in its 90 minute run time, but others will want to run away as fast as their little elf legs can carry them.