by Alan Yudman
I absolutely loved the original BAD SANTA. The foul-mouthed humor, the complete lack of political correctness, the bawdiness, the physical comedy and the heart. All that combined for a surprise hit. So, 13 years later I was ready for Willie to return, badder than ever.
Well BAD SANTA 2 is badder. But not in the way that you would want. Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) is older, just as messed up and on the verge of suicide. Apparently Sue (Lauren Graham) has left him, but Thurman Merman is still hanging around. They are two pathetic people. Willie because he’s a lonely, loathsome drunk. Thurman because he is so freaking clueless about life. Then Marcus (Tony Cox) shows up with a plan for another heist. Apparently he’s recently out of prison. The job is in Chicago so they travel there with the promise of millions. Willie finds out the third member of this misfit crew is his mother (Kathy Bates). Let’s just say Willie won’t be buying any Mother’s Day cards. Ever. The “love” interest for Willie this time is Christina Hendricks (yes, complete with boob jokes). The crew wants to steal $2 million from a charity run by Hendricks and her wet noodle husband.
The plot is not bad. The idea is worth exploring but the execution is dull. The jokes are lazy. The attempt at pulling your heartstrings falls flat. BAD SANTA was so outrageous, just repeating the same formula was never going to work. So the jokes had to be bigger and badder. All that while not losing Willie’s innate goodness that is buried under a dirty Santa Costume and several bottle of whiskey. The original writers and director are not a part of this. Good for them. Director Mark Waters and writers Johnny Rosenthal and Shauna Cross miss the target over and over again. There are some giggles, but nothing worth paying money to see.
When you have such a unique and unexpected success like the original BAD SANTA, maybe it is better to just let that one live on its own. The formula is too hard to replicate. BAD SANTA 2 is a turd that wishes it were a lump of coal in your stocking. At least the coal wouldn’t smell as bad.