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  • Bad Santa 2 | Review

    By | November 23, 2016

    Bad S 2Director: Mark Waters

    Writers: Johnny Rosenthal, Shauna Cross

    Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Tony Cox, Christina Hendricks, Brett Kelly, Ryan Hansen, Jenny Zigrino

    Thirteen years ago, director Terry Zwigoff and actor Billy Bob Thornton brought us an exquisitely inappropriate minor masterpiece of twisted comedy with a heart of pitch black gold. It was, at least to me, actually shocking and actually funny and featured a brilliant cast of actors playing a sharply written cast of characters. It had depth and heart and vulgarity and humor and it’s universal belief in universal horribleness was somehow life-affirming. Now we finally get a sequel and more than anything, it will probably just remind you how much the world misses Bernie Mac and John Ritter.

    The film opens with a laugh inducing bang as an older Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) driving a convertible down the street while ogling a breastfeeding mother…before crashing the car into a valet stand, and in the process losing his valet job. It seems he’s figured nothing out since the last time we saw him and is still down on his luck and miserable. There follows a brilliant visual gag involving a suicide attempt and an electric stove but Willie’s attempt at self-destruction are interrupted by a visit from Thurman Murman (Brett Kelly). Thurman is all grown up in body but no more sharp of mind and still looking to Willie as a father figure.

    Thurman arrives with news that Willie is once more being recruited by his old partner-in-crime Marcus (Tony Cox), the same one who tried to kill him the last time around, for a scam in Chicago that involves ripping off an oddly profitable Christmas charity organization. The scam has all been put together by Willie’s estranged mom, the completely misnamed Sunny (Kathy Bates), who is even more sick and twisted than her son and so over the top that her character is often not even funny, despite Bates’ brilliant, over the top performance.

    The sequel is just as crass and inappropriate as the first and is still rife with anal sex jokes but ultimately lacks some of the subversively dark worldview and much of the strong character development of the original. It’s great to see the returning characters’ faces again and the newcomers like Christina Hendricks’ straight-laced charity organizer with some sexual proclivities, are enjoyable enough. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the film made me laugh out loud repeatedly. But when all is said and done, it mostly left me feeling like something was missing, like Billy Bob Thornton and company were just going through the motions, in the process reminding me of how much I love the original.

    Rating: 6/10

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