When Bad Santa was released in 2003, we hadn’t seen anything quite like it. No film had quite as much fun bastardizing the Christmas genre with such filthy glee. Billy Bob Thornton’s lewd Santa Claus remains a Christmas classic that many return to yearly, much like the more sanitized classics like Home Alone. This is why a sequel is particularly tricky: it’s such a beloved, unique film that its sequel was bound to have a tricky time filling those boots. And this is the case occasionally with Bad Santa 2, which is definitely an inferior film.
Bad Santa 2 resumes 13 years after we last saw Willie (Thornton), the washed-up, alcoholic conman. We learn that in the last 13 years he hasn’t done much. He still keeps in touch with that adorable kid from the first movie, Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly), all grown up now and clueless as ever. Unfortunately, Willie is single, hopelessly drunk, broke, and suicidal. Without any other prospects, he agrees to reunite with his old partner Marcus (Tony Cox) to help with another big heist that promises a huge 2-million dollar payout. So Willie travels to Chicago with Marcus, Thurman in hot pursuit, where he dons his Santa suit once again. Major cameos in the movie include Kathy Bates, who has an occasionally creepy/occasionally funny turn as Willie’s crass mother and partner, and Christina Hendricks as Willie’s ample-bosomed love interest.
The tone of Bad Santa 2 is pretty similar to the first one, if slightly less edgy and less mean. It’s cleaner, if that makes sense. The jokes all revolve around a few central things: Marcus’ height, Willie’s love for anal sex with larger women, and Thurman. Some of them are pretty funny, though Thornton seems like he’s half-hearting it. There’s also plenty of Christmas music and whisky. Overall, this is a sometimes weak sequel that relies on the same types of jokes as the original; for some this may be good enough.