Director: Mark Waters
Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Tony Cox
Release Date: February 21, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 5/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
Fueled by cheap whiskey and greed, Willie Soke (Academy Award®-winner Billy Bob Thornton), teams up once again with his angry sidekick, Marcus (Tony Cox), to knock off a Chicago charity run by curvaceous Diane (Christina Hendricks). But the arrival of Willie’s horror story of a mother, Sunny (Academy Award-winner Kathy Bates), and “the kid” – Thurman Merman – may upset their plan. You better watch out, Bad Santa 2 is coming to town!
Finally returning for another raunchy holiday romp, ‘Bad Santa 2’ brings viewers back into the life of career criminal Willie Soke (Thornton) who is still struggling to make a few bucks and simply get by when he receives a sudden offer from his old partner Marcus (Cox) that he can’t refuse, albeit the likelihood that he’ll be betrayed yet again. After reluctantly accepting his ex-partner’s offer, the two head out to infiltrate a notable charity event where they plan to steal the donations during a popular annual concert. Yet, Willie soon discovers that his despicable mother (Bates) is also in on the job which reignites old issues, and when he becomes sexually involved with one of the individuals he plans to rob and is subsequently followed to Chicago by the now fully grown kid who refuses to let him out of his life, things begin to get hilariously out of hand.
Directed this time around by Mark Waters (Mean Girls, The House of Yes) from a screenplay written by Johnny Rosenthal (marking his feature length screenwriting debut) and Shauna Cross (Whip It), Waters does a quite capable job at the helm of ‘Bad Santa 2’ capturing the raunchy, no-holds-barred vibe of the original and for the most part guiding the laughs along quite competently. The sequel includes a cast comprised of a few returning individuals from the first film combined with a number of folks that are new to the franchise and includes Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade), Kathy Bates (Misery), Tony Cox (Me, Myself & Irene), Christina Hendricks (Drive), Brett Kelly (Trick ‘r Treat), Ryan Hansen (Central Intelligence), and more, the majority delivering decent enough performances for the most part in each of their respective roles.
‘Bad Santa 2’ brings back a few key characters from the original holiday comedy and offers a healthy collection of laughs and raunchy fun, along with a simple and easy to follow storyline which fans of the first will undoubtedly notice various similarities to. Yet in safely following the general path of its predecessor and failing to bring anything new or unique to the table, it suffers in various ways. Not merely in the lack of originality, but the numerous attempts to achieve those heartwarming moments from the first and mostly falling flat in the process, in many instances also coming off as unintentionally silly. The returning cast members certainly help to keep things fun and familiar, although most of the new additions offer little in the way of worthwhile characters, even the talented Kathy Bates feels tired and hesitant most of the time, usually only acquiring laughs from the sheer offensive nature of her character’s lines and behavior. Fortunately the simplistic fun and the constant hilariously offensive activity help to balance the problems to a degree and keep things continually fun along the way, though that’s not to say they hide the film’s problems by any means. The Blu-ray (and 4K Ultra HD) release(s) also include a new Unrated cut of the movie that appears to include just shy of 3 additional minutes integrated into the film, yet as I was only able to watch the unrated cut so far due to time constraints I’m unable to comment regarding what the new footage included within actually consists of; regardless, the chances are the 2-3 extra minutes of content probably won’t be enough to alter the decision of anyone who was or wasn’t already planning to pick up a copy of the BD or UHD release. Even if it doesn’t hold up to the level of the original in most ways and undeniably has its faults, the fellow fans of the memorable first film will still definitely want to make a point of checking out the sequel when you have the opportunity to do so, it’s certainly a consistently fun and hilarious follow up that should at least be well worth a watch at your convenience.
Overall, ‘Bad Santa 2’ may not be anywhere near the level of fantastic that its predecessor managed to achieve and fails to offer anything new or noteworthy to the mix, yet it still manages to deliver a constantly hilarious and enjoyable ride featuring some returning key cast members that should if nothing else keep fans of the first laughing quite frequently from start to finish. I would definitely recommend anyone who enjoyed the original to give ‘Bad Santa 2’ a shot when you have the chance, yet unless you’re a diehard fan of the first you probably don’t need to go out of your way to immediately get your hands on a copy, merely give it a whirl at some point whenever it happens to be on cable or your preferred subscription streaming service.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Bad Santa 2’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation on both the unrated and theatrical editions, each utilizing the film’s original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic as a whole and provides a sharp, detailed and colorful presentation from start to finish with no notable faults to be found within. It holds up without issue even during the darkly lit sequences, never causing anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a solid high definition video presentation complimented by a more than sufficient bitrate that should easily please.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on both cuts of the film. This lossless multichannel soundtrack delivers a clean, crisp and occasionally fairly active audio presentation throughout. While not overly aggressive, it still takes advantage of all five available channels on numerous occasions in order to send the music, crowd chatter, nature elements and more throughout the various speakers when fitting, and never resulting in any dialogue which might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a more than capable 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers in every way required of it.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Bad Santa 2’ includes some brief, yet enjoyable extras. Included on the release is a ‘Gag Reel’ (running approximately 4 minutes in length), in addition to a number of ‘Deleted Scenes’ (running approximately 3 minutes in length) from the movie, along with an ‘Alternate Opening’ (running 1 minute), and an ‘Alternate Ending’ (approximately 3 minutes). We are also treated to a collection of short behind the scenes Featurettes and other fun videos, they include: ‘Thurman Then and Now’ (running approximately 2 minutes in length), ‘Just Your Average Red Band Featurette’ (running 2 minutes), ‘”That’s My Willie” Original Animated Series’ (approximately 4 minutes), and ‘Jingle Balls’ (approximately 30 seconds). A few ‘Trailers and Spots’ (approximately 7 minutes combined) for the film are also included.