By George M. Thomas
|Billy Bob Thornton and Christina Hendricks in Bad Santa 2.|
That film, produced and allegedly re-written by Joel and Ethan Coen, possessed a level of intelligence and brutally mocked what has become of the holiday season. It, however, also possessed heart.
The Coen Brothers didn’t have much to do with BAD SANTA 2. It’s of little surprise, then, that while the film possesses all the skepticism, cynicism, racism and every other negative ism that can be named, it has absolutely none of the charm or heart.
But is it funny? Well it has its moments that induce pop-through-the-nose laughter. Much of the time, though, it just causes creepy cringes – this despite Billy Bob Thornton’s return to the lead role of Willie, a penny ante criminal, who can’t escape his past.
And his past catches up with him in a major way when his former partner in crime Marcus (Tony Cox) tracks him down for one more big score. Willie’s up for the gig despite his misgivings about Marcus, who tried to kill him in the first film.
Marcus convinces him to leave Arizona for Chicago to meet the mastermind behind the heist, who turns out to be Willie's wretched mother, Sunny (Kathy Bates).
Together the trio plan to rob a charity that raises money through its Santa Clauses. Yes, Willie’s got to put the suit back on as they gather intel on how best to rob the charity’s safe. Through it all, we’re subjected to a myriad of alleged comedic situations whose humor is in the eye of the beholder.
It’s difficult to not appreciate Thornton’s ability to throw himself into any part, even that of a cretin and Bates certainly does the same. To be quite honest, the comedic trio created by Cox’s addition aren’t the problem with BAD SANTA 2.
It’s the superficial attempt at redemption that has Thurman (Brett Kelly), the awkward kid from Bad Santa who is now an awkward adult, at the center of the action.
Ultimately, BAD SANTA 2 proves to be the equivalent of a kid getting a board game for Christmas when they wanted a Xbox One.
Movie: BAD SANTA 2
Director: Mark Waters
Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Tony Cox, Brett Kelly, Christina Hendricks
Rated: Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, and some graphic nudity
Running time: 92 minutes
George’s rating: 1.5-of-4 stars