Bad Santa 2 Plot Summary:
Now out of prison, Marcus (Tony Cox) hunts down an even more hung over, depressed Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) for a huge robbery in Chicago. Willie once more has to don the Santa suit, work with his mom (Kathy Bates), and all while trying to shoo away a now grown up Thurman (Brett Kelly), who still adores him.
Bad Santa 2 joins the ranks of Ted 2, Zoolander 2 and countless other comedy sequels that should have been left alone. Fine. I’ll be that guy. This movie belongs on the naughty list. There. You happy! I’m more upset with myself. I should have known better than to think this could actually be funny, but I have too much of an appreciation for the original. This is a blueprint on how to do everything wrong with a sequel. It’s infuriating as hell. They took what worked in doses, and blew it up tenfold. It’s the most rookie of rookie mistakes.
Remember all those crude one-liners Billy Bob Thornton had in the first movie? Oh, man. People loved those. How about that’s all he does in the first half! Better yet, let’s write two Willie characters! Yeah! How about we get Kathy Bates to play his mom, and we make her even worse! People are going to love it! Crickets in the theater. Too much of a good thing is one of the truer statements in human history, and it’s never more prevalent then when it comes to film. Kathy Bates plays one of the most foul-mouthed, awful characters I can remember in a long time. Every time she spoke, I just wanted it to stop. I understand what they were going for. It’s trying to be edgy to the point where she crosses into endearing. It’s not endearing. It’s anything but endearing. I just wanted her to go away.
While Mommy Santa was my least favorite part of the movie, I’m more frustrated that the filmmakers missed the entire point of Bad Santa. Yes, Willie was a crude jackass, but he was lovable. Whenever you unlocked more of his sad past, you felt that much more pain for the guy. In Bad Santa 2, Willie is just a racist prick. That’s it. You don’t care about this guy at all. Look, I’m all for Politically Incorrect humor, especially in these times. I crave it. If you do it wrong though, it comes across as truly offensive. This is in poor taste. Not only that, but when one of the characters actually states “I don’t care about political correctness,” you show your hand early on. That’s pathetic screenwriting. If you want tasteful offensive humor, go rent Sausage Party, or even Dirty Grandpa for crying out loud. I also hope Tony Cox got a huge pay check, because they write enough little people jokes to last an entire century. Wow.
Was there anything I liked? Billy Bob Thornton does what he can, but he’s working with chicken scratch. The back and forth between him and Tony Cox is decent, but not even close to the chemistry they had in the first film. What will ultimately save this movie from being on my “Worst of” list is Thurman Merman. He’s the one bright spot of the entire movie. Kelly does a flawless job of emulating what he did as a kid. He’s exactly who I’d picture Thurman to be at twenty-one. The dialogue is perfect. Any time the movie is focused on them, shades of the original creep in.
The Willie/Thurman moments aren’t nearly enough to outweigh how horrible everything else is. I saw this opening weekend, so you got to think everyone else in that theater loved the first movie like I did. I heard one laugh during the whole 90-minute run. For a short movie, it felt excruciatingly long, which is always the sign of a bad film.
Comedy sequels have little chance of making it anyway, but if you want any hope of succeeding, it’s probably a good idea to get the original writers and director (Terry Zwigoff) on board. I’m sure they declined. Getting the guy who directed Vampire Academy (Mark Waters) and one of the writers from What to Expect When You’re Expecting and If I Stay probably wasn’t a good mix for a hard Rated-R comedy. It has no idea if it wants to be crude or dark. What we get is just plain dumb.
Rating: 4.5 out of 10 (Bad)
Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.