Released by: Broad Green Pictures
Released on: February 21st, 2017.
Director: Mark Waters
Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Tony Cox, Christina Hendricks, Brett Kelly
Year: 2016 Purchase From Amazon
This second Bad Santa film isn’t as good as the original, no surprise there really, sequels by nature rarely surpass what came before. It is, however, a movie that will definitely appeal to those who found the nasty, subversive humor of its predecessor appealing. In short, it’s flawed, but it works on the same level.
The film once again stars Billy Bob Thornton as professional sleazeball crook Willie Soke. When we catch up with him, he’s in Arizona and he’s not doing so hot. He’s still drinking like a fish and doesn’t really seem to have much to live for these days. Things take an upswing for him when his pal Marcus (Tony Cox) is let out of jail. Proving that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks Tony calls Willie up and talks him into taking on a job with him. Willie is excited by the prospect and signs up, but soon learns the hard way that he’ll have to work alongside his own mother, Sunny (Kathy Bates).
As Marcus’ plan starts to play out, Willie has to decide if he wants to keep living the life of a career criminal and work alongside his mom, or bail and go back to basically being a bum on the verge of killing himself. Along the way there’s a kinda-sorta romance with a pretty woman named Diane (Christina Hendricks) and ‘befriends’ a young man named Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly).
Cheery holiday fun this is not but if you enjoy dark comedy and can appreciate Thornton uncanny ability to play complete and utter bastards better than just about any other actor working in Hollywood today, you’ll probably get a kick out of this. Predictably, there’s a redemption story here of sorts, the movie doesn’t really do much with it though. There are some ‘tender moments’ between Willie and his mother Sunny, but for the most part this is an hour and a half of Willie acting like a jerk. If that worked for you in the first Bad Santa, it’ll more than likely work for you in this second film.
The rest of the cast are all fine. Hendricks is a bombshell and plays the pseudo love interest as well as the script allows her to. Tony Cox is funny as Willie’s diminutive partner, reprising his role from the first film and proving once again to be the perfect companion for Willie. Bates is good as the matronly criminal type, she’s a good fit here and you can buy her as Willie’s mom easily enough. Really though, this is Thornton’s show and he is quite funny in that nasty, hateful way. The fact that the story never really catches fire almost seems secondary.
Bad Santa 2 arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1.85.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer that looks pretty spiffy. Detail is good here but the movie is shot reality TV style in faux documentary format with the use of a lot of handheld cameras and such. It never gets too shaky the way some found footage horror movies do but there are moments that like less than ‘a perfect film transfer' than others because of it. This works in the context of the story being told, however. Black levels are nice, colors look good, texture is fine and there aren't any transfer related oddities like heavy noise reduction or edge enhancement of note.
The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is a good one though like most comedies it never really gets into ‘demo material' mode. Most of what makes up the movie is dialogue but there are plenty of instances throughout the movie where the surrounds spring to life, be it to spread out the score or play with some effects. Levels are nicely balanced, dialogue is crisp and clear and the English subtitles are easy to read and free of any obvious typos. Optional English subtitles are provided.
Extras start off with a two minute piece called Thurman Then & Now which is quick look at how the character has and hasn’t changed since the first movie. Just Your Average Red Band Featurette is a two minute profanity laden EPK promo piece, while the four minute That's My Willie is quick animated story involving the characters from the feature. It’s mildly amusing.
Rounding out the extras are two trailers, a quarter of television spots, a gag real, an alternate opening and three deleted scenes. Animated menus and chapter selection are also included on the disc.
The Final Word:
Bad Santa 2 isn’t quite as funny as the original film but it definitely works on the same level. Billy Bob Thornton fans will appreciate this more than anyone else as like its predecessor it’s a showcase for his uncanny ability to play an asshole, but fans of mean spirited comedy should appreciate this. The Blu-ray is light on extras but it does look and sound really good.
Click on the image below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!