REVIEW: ‘Bad Santa 2’

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**The following is an in-depth review of “Bad Santa 2” and does contain spoilers**

Bad Santa 2” is the follow-up to 2003’s “Bad Santa,” starring Billy Bob Thornton as an alcoholic and foul mouthed department store Santa Claus who’s actually a burglar. 

The sequel takes place in real time, 13 years after the events of the first film. Thornton’s Willie is living life on the straight and narrow, leaving his days as a safe cracker and burglar in the past. This all changes when Marcus – Willie’s dwarf former partner, who tried to kill Willie after the department store job – returns after being released from prison. Marcus soon convinces Willie to help him with a score that would set them both up for life.

Marcus soon takes  Willie to a Salvation Army type charity in Chicago. Here we meet Willie’s estranged mother played by Kathy Bates. Willie is initially sceptical about the job, not believing the charity would have as much cash on hand as Marcus promised, but seeing his mother involved is almost a deal breaker. He is, of course, convinced to stay.

Once again Willie finds himself in a Santa suit with Marcus as his elf and his mother, Sunny, standing in as Mrs. Claus. The plan is pretty straightforward, help take in donations for the charity and then, on Christmas Eve, steal the money from the safe and make off to live the good life.

Willie is soon disrupted by Thurman, a young boy Willie befriended in the first movie and has, begrudgingly, maintained a close relationship with since. Not wanting Willie to be alone on Christmas, Thurman takes it upon himself to go to Chicago and track Willie down.

Films like “Bad Santa” are among the hardest to do a sequel to. Generally, with a film like this, there isn’t anywhere else to really go with it while still being true to the original. Astonishingly, however, “Bad Santa 2” manages to pull it off. Maybe it’s because of how many years have passed since the original, but something was able to just click with this film that many similar sequels just aren’t able to do.

The material is fresh and familiar, which is something all sequels try to be. Thornton’s grim and sarcastic character is just as on point today as it was 13 years ago. Willie Soke is a character taylor made for Thornton.

While there are some re-treads – like Marcus trying to betray and kill Willie yet again – a lot of the film feels new and original. The jokes are fresh and funny and the premise is different enough from the first film to hold the interest of the audience.

“Bad Santa 2” is by no means “Citizen Kane,” nor is it trying to be. It’s a low-brow comedy full of toilet humor and that’s all it’s shooting for. In that, it succeeds.  It’s rauchy, disrespectful to everything, and really funny. If you’re not into that, this movie isn’t going to entertain you. If irreverant humor is something you enjoy, however, “Bad Santa 2” is definitely one to check out.

“Bad Santa 2” currently holds a 26 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

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