Another example that sometimes things only work once.
“BAD SANTA 2” is the sequel to the 2003 original that I found to be very entertaining. This one brings Billy Bob Thornton back as the same booze-addled safe cracker named Willie, who this time takes a job that involves his estranged mother, played by Kathy Bates.
Like I said, I enjoyed the first “Bad Santa” the over-the-top raunchy humor, blended with the Christmas setting of the story, worked great in my opinion. Thornton was excellent in the lead and I couldn’t see anyone else portraying the role to the level of realism he did. This time the characters are in Chicago and trying to knock off a charity instead of the department store angle, but it still all leads to the same jokes and scenarios we remember from the first film.
The fist film had a brash arrogance to it, knowing it was overboard, but still able to deliver it humor in a fitting story. The recipe worked, but in this sequel the feeling was simply that of trying too hard. Many more of the jokes were clearly forced, they all felt like they were tying to kick it up a notch in the shock-value humor, and it just did not work like it did the first time around.
This film didn’t feel like it tried to do anything new and with that being felt, there was no real reason to invest in the story-line. Thornton was good in the role like he was in the first, but he was simply better the last time, as this time he felt like he was going through the motions. Some of his jokes land, some do not, and some fall completely flat.
Also, while Kathy Bates had some moments, she wasn’t able to bring this film the same amusing side-characters that Bernie Mac and John Ritter did in the first film. Her role in the story was not the best, she did have a couple great moments, but nothing compared to the humor Mac and Ritter added to the first film.
The script was predictable and felt like it too, was going through the motions. You can see where all the story-arcs are going and with the same barrage of crude humor coming at you it just gets fatiguing. It failed to deliver the hilariously overboard scenarios with the charm the first film did. Also, with so many years between these two films, the story this one delivers simply comes off as lazy, or at least unambitious.
Overall “Bad Santa 2” was not a horrible film. It will deliver some laughs here and there but it just feels like a retread of the original film. Without the luster of some great side-characters, and the feel of freshness in the raunchy humor.
Time: 92 min
MPAA Rating: (Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, and some graphic nudity)