Keeping with the Hollywood trend of giving films sequels that are ten years old or older, we have another one for you. We’ve had a bevy of these types of films over the past few years. Whether it was the equally atrocious Zoolander 2 and Independence Day: Resurgence we’ve seen this year, or back to something like Dumb and Dumber To, Hollywood is sequel happy. The latest film to get this treatment; Bad Santa. And while that film was a fairly successful at the box office back in 2003, sometimes we can’t help but feel like the sequel came too late. Often times, they are too late. It has been 13 years since Bad Santa bowed in theaters. Bad Santa 2 has no right to exist, but I’m glad it does. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this film. Filled with the right balance of gross-out humor and genuinely funny moments, Bad Santa 2 rises above the typical “too late” sequel to offer a wildly entertaining and frequently outing.
Bad Santa 2 is directed by Mark Waters (Mean Girls, Mr. Popper’s Penguins) and stars Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Kathy Bates, Christina Hendricks and Brett Kelly. Thornton reprises his role as the vile thief Willie. After he is reached out to by former partner Marcus (Cox), Willie decides to join him in Chicago to pull off another job. Willie and Marcus head to the Windy City where Willie finds his mother Sunny (Bates) waiting to help them with the robbery of a children’s charity. Christina Hendricks plays Diane, the operator of the charity, who strikes up a relationship with Willie.
This film will certainly win no points for originality. It isn’t exactly a total rehash of the first film but some elements return. We have another heist involved and another adversary to conquer. The villain of the film however, is much less than compelling than the original.
Really, this film, and any comedy for that matter, has to make you laugh. There are a lot of laughs in this film. Thornton is again a riot as Willie. He is the same as he’s always been. The humor is really no different than the original. But the jokes land. Most of that has to do with Thornton, Cox and Bates’s comedic timing. Kathy Bates is terrific in this. She embraces this role 100 percent. Granted, Bad Santa 2 is a much better film than Dirty Grandpa, but Bates gives it her all much like De Niro did in that film. Cox’s humor as Marcus is hit or miss. Much of the comedy at his expense is all about his height. Which is funny at times, but too often it becomes recycled and unfunny.
Brett Kelly returns as Thurman Merman for the sequel. Thurman steals every scene he is in with his perfectly timed, innocent and uproarious brand of comedy the writing pulls out of him. There are several scenes with Thurman that are gut bustlingly funny.
Mark Waters helms this film and I think that is what saves it from being a total disaster. While his films are mostly forgettable, Waters is experienced. It’s that type of experience that’s necessary to pull these types of sequels off. However, there are certainly exceptions to that rule. Ben Stiller and Roland Emmerich directed the aforementioned abominations that were Zoolander 2 and Independence Day: Resurgence. They are most certainly experienced directors, but they made what could’ve been fun films, into truly abhorrent ones.
Is Bad Santa 2 the funniest film you’ll see this year? Probably not. But if you liked the first film, you’ll enjoy this. It’s almost instantly quotable and has enough laughs to keep you consistently chuckling thorough its perfectly brief run time. If nothing else, it is a nice departure from the typical studio Christmas films we tend to see around this time of year. Bad Santa 2 is not sequel we deserve, or necessarily needed, but it’s an enjoyable, laugh filled time at the theater and I was pleasantly surprised walking out how much I enjoyed it.