Published Nov 24, 2016It's a common tradition, come the Christmas holidays, to decorate a tree and eventually haul it to the curb when its needles have browned and fallen off, no longer displaying a shred of the beauty it once brought you.
That seasonal practice is not unlike Mark Waters' Bad Santa 2, compared to its predecessor. Much like a Christmas tree at the end of its life span (albeit minus copious amounts of sex, booze and Billy Bob Thornton) it's a second coming that doesn't shine half as bright as the original and should be tossed away without hesitation.
Set a decade after the original, Bad Santa 2 opens with the hard-drinking, trash-talking Willie Soke failing to take his own life in his seedy apartment after losing a valet job. A visit from his shifty heist partner Marcus (Tony Cox) ends with the two traveling to Chicago to rob a wealthy charity run by husband and wife team Diane (Christina Hendricks) and Regent (Ryan Hansen). Dressing up as a bell-ringing Santa in the streets to help collect the funds he'll eventually steal, Willie's role becomes even more complicated when he discovers his estranged mother Sunny (Kathy Bates) is also in on the heist, proving that their vitriolic nature runs in the family.
The puerility that the original film was lauded for is in no short supply here, with the film's writers doubling down on it all in hopes of being as biting. Viewers don't need to wait even five minutes into the film for a good dose of racist, ableist and misogynistic spew, but regardless of how offensive one finds the subject matter, the ham-fisted delivery keeps it from being anywhere near funny. A scene in which Willie lines up a number of children to sit on his knee as Santa at a holiday party offers some laughs, but moments like these are few and far between.
It doesn't get much better from there, with the plot effectively playing second fiddle to the over the top lewdness. A central component of the heist involves Willie and Marcus attempting to seduce both Diane and security guard Gina (Jenny Zigrino), and apart from both female characters failing to be developed beyond simple objects of desire, additional scenes of the men arriving home to more vapid, rude banter stretch things out longer than they should be. It all leads to a relatively rushed action sequence that ends the film, attempting to wrap everything up as quickly and curtly as possible.
The subplot involving Willie's continuing relationship with a now-grown up Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly) has a handful of chances to give the movie heart (or something that resembles it), but would rather make Merman the butt of all intelligence-related jokes.
Bad Santa 2 aims lower than the lump of coal in every bad child's stocking in dashing straight for the lowest common denominator. As far as this year's holiday films go, you should hope this one falls off the sleigh. (eOne)