You people are monsters,’ Billy Bob Thornton growled in the first ‘Bad Santa’ movie – a line that’s doubly funny coming from a misanthropic whiskey-soaked thief in a stained Santa suit. This sequel has lacks the viciousness of the first movie, and its hint of honest-to-goodness Christmas redemption. ‘Bad Santa 2’ is also lacking a director with an original voice: Terry Zwigoff (‘Ghost World) is replaced by Mark Waters, who is more sentimental and more up for broad, panicky comedy.
The script (the writers are new too) is a rehash of jokes that worked better last time around. Thornton, looking visibly bummed by the weak script, is back as ne’er-do-well Willy, who’s still just as depressed. Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly), the dimwitted kid of the first movie, is now a creepy 21-year-old virgin unwilling to leave Willy’s abusive orbit. Also re-entering the picture is Marcus (Tony Cox), sprung from jail, with another robbery gig up his sleeve.
The swearing and drunk-punching feels forced and ‘Bad Santa 2’ is especially hard on its female characters. Christina Hendricks, in the role of a charity boss, is basically here to for Willy to ogle, while Kathy Bates, playing his mum, is a essentially a crankier version of her sadist character in ‘Misery’ (this time with a hacking smoker’s cough). You’ll lose track of the heist from time to time, and the fight for Willy’s alcohol-marinated soul isn’t compelling. Still, there are a few crude laughs, which count for something these days