Bad Santa 2 comes 13 years after the first Bad Santa, although technically for the UK, it’s 12, since it didn’t get a release until November 2004. Even still, it took until November 2016 for me to get round to watching it… the night before seeing this, to be exact. But I had heard great things about it, and they were right.
The sequel reunites drunk best-ever-named-Santa Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) with great-surnamed Marcus Skidmore (Tony Cox) – regardless of how things turned out last time – for one more safe-cracking job which, this time, will net £2m between them. The action moves from Phoenix to Chicago, but it’s essentially more of the same.
There’s a lot of regular laughs to be had, but like most comedy sequels, it doesn’t hit the same heights as often as the original. Firstly, it needs better tertiary characters. Bad Santa had two great ones in John Ritter and Bernie Mac. They both had presence, but sadly neither of them have been with us for some time, the former passing away before that film was released, leading it to being dedicated to his memory.
The first film’s director, Terry Zwigoff, appears to have stopped directing as it’s been a while since he made a film, but why couldn’t Bad Santa‘s original scriptwriting team of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa come back?
For the rest of the actors, Kathy Bates is fine, at first, as Willie’s mother, Sunny, but after her character has been introduced, she slows down into rather a one-note performance. The love interest (however much of a romantic you’d expect Willie Soke to be) this time is Christina Hendricks as Diane, as one half of the couple who run the charity that the two leads are looking to rip-off, although her husband’s character is comparatively wasted, as is the security guard, to the point where I can’t remember either of their names without looking them up.
Billy Bob Thornton is great as always, as the man every woman inconceivably fancies (who knew there were so many women out there with a daddy kink?), there’s a lot of very funny jokes that revolve around strong language, plus scenes where Willie is finding it impossible to commit suicide, and a car crash which really made me jump.
There’s no post-credits sequence, but the first part of the end credits contain some Instagram photos that relate to parts of the film you’ve just seen, and there’s are some small graphics, also relating to various scenes.
Bad Santa 2 is certainly worth a watch, although at the moment, if you’re only going to the cinema once before Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is released on December 15th, and you’ve a Harry Potter hankering, then Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is a better big-screen bet.
Book tickets for Bad Santa 2 at Vue Cinemas.
Running time: 92 minutes
Studio: Entertainment One UK Ltd
Cinema: Vue, Lowry, Salford Quays
Format: 1.85:1 (Panasonic VariCam 35)
Released: November 23rd 2016
Director: Mark Waters
Producers: Andrew Gunn and Geyer Kosinski
Screenplay: Johnny Rosenthal and Shauna Cross (based on characters created by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa)
Music: Lyle Workman
Willie Soke: Billy Bob Thornton
Sunny Soke: Kathy Bates
Marcus Skidmore: Tony Cox
Diane Hastings: Christina Hendricks
Thurman Merman: Brett Kelly
Regent Hastings: Ryan Hansen
Gina De Luca: Jenny Zigrino
Dorfman: Jeff Skowron
Alice: Cristina Rosato
Jolly Santa: Mike Starr
Opal: Octavia Spencer
Choirmaster: Ranee Lee
Breast Feeding Mom: Selah Victor
Valet Boss: Lombardo Boyar
Costume Greeter: Dean Hagopian
Tattooed Jail Dude: Marc-André Boulanger
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.