After years of hints and promises, Bad Santa 2 has finally arrived in theaters. Is it a great dark comedy like the original or should the filmmakers have just left well enough alone?
It’s been thirteen years since Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) last put on his Santa suit to pull a job. He’s hit rock bottom—again—and is drunkenly stumbling through life and multiple jobs. He lost his girl, but Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly) is still hanging around. Things change when Willie is approached by his old partner, Marcus (Tony Cox), who is out of prison due to overcrowding. Marcus has a job for the two of them in Chicago that was put together by Willie’s estranged mother, Sunny (Kathy Bates). The plan is to get employed at a children’s charity as a Santa Claus and then rip off the charity at the end of the season. It’s supposedly all right, though, because the head of the charity, Regent Hastings (Ryan Hansen), is already skimming money off the top, so Willie and his cohorts just see it as stealing from a thief. During the course of the job, Willie becomes infatuated with Hastings’ wife, Diane (Christina Hendricks), who personifies charity. Will Willie be able to get his life together enough to complete the job or is he headed to an early grave?
Comedy sequels are always a dicey proposition. In most cases, they are never equal to the originals and in many cases they simply repeat the first film with just a few new jokes. Bad Santa 2 is more of the latter, because there are definitely some hilarious moments, but upon seeing it, you’ll have a massive case of deja vu. Part of the reason why this film feels like a cheap copy of the original is due to the fact that not one of the original creators (screenwriters and director) is involved in this sequel. So, instead of forging a new, more compelling story for Willie, the new team of Director Mark Waters and Screenwriters Johnny Rosenthal and Shauna Cross chose instead to serve leftovers. Again, there are some very funny scenes here, but overall it has the feel of a movie we’ve already seen, making the sequel the worst thing a sequel can ever be: unnecessary. The lessons Willie learns at the end of this film are literally the same lessons he learned at the end of the first film. It’s that lazy.
The cast is fine with what they’re given. Thornton is funny in the role again, but Willie comes across as more unlikable in this one, while in the original he was a lovable degenerate. Cox is hilarious as usual, but again, he’s not given enough to do thanks to Kathy Bates’ inclusion. Her character is just that, a character that doesn’t feel at all like a real person. It was nice to see Kelly in his most famous role again, but Thurman is stupid and naïve to the point where we need to start worrying about him. Hendricks isn’t given much more to do than be the eye candy, which is sad, because she fought for so much more as Joan on Mad Men.
It’s probably obvious by now, but you can totally skip Bad Santa 2. Stay home instead and watch the original, which was a clever and raunchy comedy, instead of seeing this cheap copy which is solely raunchy.