Director: Mark Waters
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Tony Cox, Christina Hendricks, Brett Kelly, Ryan Hansen
We’re at that time of year again where almost every trailer preceding a film at the cinema is Christmas related. You know the ones, lovey dovey couples going to families houses for Christmas, and they usually have to resolve some sort of issue to ‘save’ Christmas. Personally, those films aren’t my thing and I am the epitome of the Grinch when it comes to family festive films. Adult targeted Christmas comedies on the other hand are my idea of a festive cinema trip, such as last year’s Christmas favourite of mine ‘The Night Before’.
13 years after donning a Santa suit in the original ‘Bad Santa’, Billy Bob Thornton returns as the drunk and misanthropic Willie Stokes, who is roped into another Christmas-related robbery by his old accomplice, Marcus (Tony Cox), who betrayed him during their last robbery together. Willie discovers that the target is in fact a charity, and whilst he seems hesitant at first, it doesn’t take much persuading for him to agree to crack the safe. Willie later discovers he was followed to Chicago by Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly), who was the child in the first ‘Bad Santa’ film that looked up to Willie. Thurman is now 21 and still sees Willie as some sort of father he never had, despite Willie’s attempts to shake him loose, and will do anything to spend Christmas with the closest thing he has to a family.
The plot for this sequel is pretty much the same as it’s predecessor and it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table other than some up-to-date jokes, including a scene about ridiculous things children ask for at Christmas. It feels as if director Mark Waters, whose previous work includes ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘Mr Popper’s Penguins’, wanted the sequel to have a familiar feel to it and made the mistake of it feeling all too familiar and the film feels like a bit of a copy and paste job. Even the introduction of new side characters didn’t do anything to make this film feel fresh because we don’t see all that much of them and learn next-to-nothing about who they are. I definitely feel like there was opportunity for the sequel to out-do the original in the beginning, but once the story kicked in it just slipped into the same old routine of occasional on the nose humour, sex jokes, and Willie’s drunken antics.
It was great to see both Billy Bob Thornton and Tony Cox return to play their characters because the sequel, much like the original, relies heavily on the humorous dialogue between Willie and Marcus as they express their hate for one another with foul-mouthed, non-politically correct, and abusive digs at one another, which if I’m honest is 95% of the humour in the film. Kathy Bates joins the sequel as Willie’s estranged mother, but this character feels like she was forced into the plot in an attempt to have a female character that’s heavily-involved in the story. In actuality if you took her out of the equation the film wouldn’t be be all that different.
Whilst it got a few laughs out of me in the cinema, I think it’s a film that will quickly be forgotten about. If rehashed Christmas films aren’t your thing then I would suggest giving this one a miss, however if like me you’re partial to some foul-mouthed Christmas comedy and you’ve got some time to kill, why not get a few laughs from Willie and Marcus’ wise-cracks at one another and just endure the tiresome plot.