'Bad Santa 2' review: A poorly conceived and unnecessary sequel

"Bad Santa 2" smells bad. In other words, ten minutes into its measly 87-minute run time you realize there was absolutely no reason to bring Billy Bob Thornton's Willie Soke back to the cinema. The sequel barely goes through the motions, and it sits on the viewer like a laborious endeavor. It's like a chewy cheeseburger with fancy wrapping paper. 

I get the initial allure of bringing back the baddest Santa in the world for a second go 'round. The families that aren't in love with the touchy-feely films that are normally associated with the holiday season have a place to revel in. Bad language with bad behavior and a pinch of story to give the engine enough oil to make a few bucks. "Bad Santa 2" just doesn't have a point to its existence. 

Soke is wasting away on the West Coast stealing booze and acting like he has a life. Before he can hang himself, the earnest yet tepid now fully grown up Thurman Merman(Brett Kelley) shows up to deliver him some good news.Willie has mail and it's got a little cash inside. His little friend, Marcus Skidmore(Tony Cox), has gotten out of jail(after betraying Willie in the original film) and wants to work again. The target is a Christmas charity foundation run by the lovely Diane Hastings(Christina Hendricks, aka Joan from Mad Men). There's only one catch; Willie has to work with the only person he hates more than his father, his mother, Sunny Soke(Kathy Bates, chewing up scenery with her eyes closed). Predictable shenanigans ensue.

Willie wants to have sex with anything that moves, drink as much booze as his liver can handle, and make a few bucks while spitting out every hurtful grouping of words the English language saw fit not to include in the school dictionary. 

Bad Santa, released 13 years ago, was delightfully raunchy and came off as something fresh. It said all the wrong things and tapped into things that all dirty men think about and made it into a dark comedy. It scored with audiences and critics. It has a point, a reason to exist. The sequel is anything but fresh and not very funny. 

The story is bland, the acting is trash and the overall concept looks more like a need to make a buck than inspire an audience to revisit an old friend. The laughs are there in spurts, but overall this film is a big disappointment even with modest expectations. 

Thornton looks as bored as the idea, sleepwalking through the role as if he was promised a studio in which to record one of his rarely listened to music albums. This is the guy who once did "Sling Blade" and "Monster's Ball." The rest of the cast either tries too hard or merely exists as window dressing. 

Don't waste $10 on the ticket. It's not worth the $20 in concession treats it'll take to wash away the lack of pleasure of sitting through it. It's not worth the three beers required to make the experience dissipate like a bad day at the office. Skip it at the theater and wait for the DVD. 

"Bad Santa" was funny. In the right mood, very funny. Stay home and watch that film. The sequel didn't need to exist and comes off as an amateur exercise in money grabbing. 


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