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‘Bad Santa 2’ (review)

bad-santa-2-teaser-posterProduced by Geyer Kosinski, Andrew Gunn
Written by Johnny Rosenthal, Shauna Cross
Based on Characters by Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Directed by Mark Waters
Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates,
Tony Cox, Christina Hendricks, Brett Kelly

 

Sequels are sequels, so why should it be, so many of them are made so goddamn awfully?

Bad Santa 2 is not the worst sequel I’ve ever seen, but it certainly falls prey to the problem of so many sequels.

It attempts to exploit some of the things that made the original so beloved, without any of the spirit of the first movie.

Billy Bob Thornton resumes the miserable character of part-time safe cracker/ part-time Santa/ Full-time drunk Willie Soke, whose life has unsurprisingly not taken a turn for the better.

He has been on the somewhat straight and narrow, finding himself followed by Thurman Merman , aka “The Boy” from the first movie.

Ringleader Tony Cox gets back in touch with Willie for one last big haul.  It’s a job in Chicago backed by an anonymous cohort that will find these drunk dreamers with enough money to retire to Mexico.

Long story short, the anonymous cohort is Willie’s mother, played by Kathy Bates.

We learn quickly that placing Willie and his mom in the center of the nature/nurture debate is not a good way to win one point of view over the other.  Bates delivers the crass nature of his mother with all of the nuance of a baseball bat.  The secret of Willie’s disdain for the world (including himself) is not too slowly revealed for the rest of the movie.

Christina Hendricks is his love interest.  I’m a big fan of her from Mad Men and found her to be criminally underutilized in this story.  Her transformation into a Santa-loving lover was a little too easy, but it becomes one of the best sight gags in the movie.

Did I laugh?

Sure.  A couple of times I laughed out loud.

The problem is that the first movie had me crying laughing, loving the quirks of the side characters (RIP Bernie Mac and John Ritter), and not rooting for anyone but the director and the cast.  Bad Santa 2 tries real hard to capture these things but ultimately has them fall flat.

Don’t worry about seeing this in the theater, but you might get a few laughs if you find it on cable.

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