Bad Santa 2 – Review (**)

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Warning: rum and Cokes only marginally elevate this viewing experience. Happy Holidays!

As flagrantly unambitious and unnecessary as you’re probably expecting, this belated go-around of 2003’s cult classic anti-holiday comedy mines few laughs out of a bare bones premise that desperately attempts to coast on the undeniable talents of its cast.

Boozed-up, foul-mouthed Santa Willie T. Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) is back in the saddle once more, teaming up with his former partner-in-crime Marcus (Tony Cox) as well as his no-nonsense mother Sunny (Kathy Bates) to rip off a Chicago charity run by the lovely Diane (Christina Hendricks).

An opening monologue delivered by Thornton basically sets the tone for the rest of the movie; studying his low monotone line readings, it’s practically impossible to tell whether the Oscar-winner is affecting an intentionally non-plussed cadence, or he really just couldn’t be arsed at all.

With an entirely new creatve team of writers, producers and director, it shouldn’t be at all surprising that this follow-up is a mostly dispassionate retread of the first movie’s formula. While the original managed to blend its wanton crudeness with a pinch of sweet humanity, number two fields out the vulgar gags while mostly forgetting to attach the requisite laughs or heart.

The only real success here is in the casting; Thornton has moments where he doesn’t seem to be sleepwalking his way to a paycheck, but Kathy Bates is the easy highlight, fully committed to a highly unflattering role, albeit one she’s recalled so many times over the years (the overbearing mother) that she could do it in her sleep.

Christina Hendricks is also sexy and fun as the charity worker with a dirty secret, and Octavia Spencer gives a quick laugh in a flash-in-the-pan cameo, but the legacy characters are largely in holding patterns here, and aren’t moved on in any meaningful way.

An incredibly low-effort production that will fly with only the most enthusiastically eggnog-glugging of audiences, Bad Santa Too is a bland, mostly laughless slog, even at just 92 minutes in length.


Bad Santa 2 is in cinemas now


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