Bad Santa 2 (2016) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

For about twenty minutes Bad Santa 2 contains the same vulgar, often hilarious crude humor of its well-regarded predecessor. Then it comes to a screeching halt when the comically untested Kathy Bates enters the picture. The jokes run thin quickly leaving the cast to meander through a story that isn’t worth being told. The offbeat relationship between Thorton’s curmudgeon old thief and the slightly mentally handicapped young man who considers him a friend, is the film’s lone bright spot.

The perpetual liquored Willie Stokes (Billy Bob Thorton) is coerced into another heist plot by his dwarf sidekick, Marcus (Tony Cox). The plan calls for Willie to once again don the Santa Claus suit which is in direct conflict with his sardonic nature and hostile temperament. Instead of robbing a department store it’s a charity that is the target of their criminal activity. Things are complicated by the addition of Willie’s Mom (Kathy Bates) to the crew. She’s a foul-mouthed, alcoholic, slut. Willie doesn’t fall from that apple tree.

Thurman, now a 21-year-old man-child, is still Willie’s only friend and the closest either has to anything resembling family. Bad Santa 2 works in its family theme on several occasions. The pay-off is a children’s concert, fronted by Thurman, that Willie attends. The bruised relationship between Willie and his maybe double-cross minded mother is a less successful angle.

Bad Santa 2 is a better made film than the original, but it’s not a better film. This long gestating sequel should have produced a less disappointing movie. Perhaps the original should have stayed a ‘one-and-done’. Thorton’s unbothered line deliveries are still chuckle inducing, and occasionally the script gives him a great jab, insult, or comeback. But the movie turns into a warmed-over rehash for two-thirds of it’s running time.

Director: Mark Waters
Stars: Billy Bob Thorton, Kathy Bates, Tony Cox

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