Blu-ray Review: Bad Santa 2

By , Contributor
Christmas arrives in February with the release of Bad Santa 2, which picks up the story of drunken shopping mall Santa Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) 13 years after the original. Those who loved the first Bad Santa will be pleased to find that Thornton is still endearingly funny in the role. This time around, former partner Marcus (Tony Cox) convinces Willie to get back into the heist business. Marcus is looking to make up for his misdeeds against Willie from the first film. He has a contact in Chicago at the Giving Way charity. Ripping that organization off could yield up to $2 million in cash.

Unfortunately for Willie, that Chicago contact turns out to be Sunny Soke (Kathy Bates). Faced with the prospect of pulling off a heist with his estranged mother, Willie initially bails. But Sunny, however crass she seems, manages to reach Willie by confessing that she's suffering the early effects of Parkinson's. Willie sticks around, only to find out that Sunny is far more ruthless than he imagined. 
 
Bad Santa 2 brett kelly.jpg The blast of anti-Yuletide sentiment that made the original Bad Santa so fresh and daring has staled quite a bit in part two. Most of the new film feels old hat, adding nothing to what went before. Brett Kelly is back as the impossibly naive Thurman Merman, still funny enough to leave viewers' faces sore from laughing. Of course, we've lost co-stars Bernie Mac and John Ritter in the years since the first film. Octavia Spencer, who has won an Oscar since the first film (for The Help, with another pending for Hidden Figures), is back for a cameo as prostitute Opal. Christina Hendricks is on board as ultra-horny Giving Way co-chairperson, stuck in a sexless marriage with her business partner hubby Regent (Ryan Hansen). 
 
bad santa 2 kathy bates.jpg Bad Santa 2 is a good news/bad news situation for fans of the first film (and if you're not a fan, you're not even interested in the new one anyway, right?). The good news is that there are enough laughs scattered throughout these 92 minutes to justify the film's existence. The bad news is that it probably could've come a lot closer to equaling the first film had a little more ambition been applied.

Broad Green Pictures' Blu-ray offers a modest lineup of supplements, including deleted scenes, an alternate opening and ending, gag reel, the animated short "That's My Willie," and a couple of very short promotional featurettes. Tech specs are rock solid (audio is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1).

Though not an easy film to get especially enthusiastic about, Bad Santa 2 delivers enough laughs to make it worth a spin.

 
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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is film and music. His new jazz album Good Merlin is now available.

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