There’s something funny about hearing Elvis sing of how there’s snow on the ground, while the image on the screen is the dry, Arizona desert. It’s the opening to the 2003 Bad Santa sequel, Bad Santa 2, and for the reprehensible Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) not a lot has changed.
Whatever modicum of humanity emerged from the man towards the end of the first film has disappeared; he’s still a miserable, humorless, self-loathing, drunken S.O.B. and that’s never going to change. After a brief, expletive-laden voice-over update that tells us how bad things have been for him since the last movie thirteen years ago, and how Lauren Graham’s character Sue is no longer around – evidently, there’s a limit to how many times she could take vomit on her lap – Willie is now alone, living in Phoenix, contemplating ending it all.
It’s shortly after sticking his head in the oven, turning it on and realizing it’s electric that a new opportunity presents itself. It’s Christmas, and Marcus Skidmore (Tony Cox), Willie’s dwarfed assistant in the first film, returns to present Willie with an idea that could pay-off big time. “I’m talking millions this time,” Marcus tells him, but instead of robbing the shopping malls of Phoenix, this time it’s a children’s charity in Chicago.
But there’s a third partner waiting up north, and once Willie meets her, his first instinct is to punch her in the face. It’s his mother, Sunny Soke (Kathy Bates), and mom proves to be just as descriptively foul-mouthed and as vile as her son. In fact, she’s probably worse. “I didn’t know I’d given birth until I tripped over him,” she explains.
The plan is to rob the charity on Christmas Eve once the safe is loaded with maximum charitable donations. Naturally, once again, Willie has to don the Santa suit in order to get nearer to the charity organization, while his mom dresses as Mrs. Claus and Marcus is the elf. The problem is, the three miserable deplorables can’t get along; Marcus still loathes Willie, Willie detests his mom, and mom hates them both, plus she’s not above continually throwing insults at the diminutive Marcus just because she can. “I don’t speak politically correct,” Sunny warns Marcus, “So if you’ve got a problem, take it up with the Lollipop Guild.” It’s one of the only clean quotables in the film, and as insults go, probably the wittiest.
Thirteen years is a long time to wait for a sequel – for those who were actually waiting – and watching Willie depressed, drunk, and glazed-over as he stumbles around wintry Chicago in an ill-fitting Santa suit, and as wretched as ever, is no fun. Neither is it fun watching Kathy Bates as Willie’s nauseating, heavily tattooed mother who has a habit of moving the big-screen TV into the bathroom doorway so that she can watch it while on the commode. There are some images you’ll never be able to un-see even if you want to – that’s one of them.
The only pleasantry – at first – is the appearance of Christina Hendricks as Diane, the warm-hearted charity organizer who later admits to her previous problem of alcoholism. It usually lead to a bout of unabashed, hot sex with whomever was nearby; a nugget of golden information that Willie gets to exploit in a back alley next to the dumpster and later at a family Christmas tree lot.
The film’s black humor comes not from any creative situations or clever exchanges but from insults; a non-stop bombardment of bile that the characters throw at each other with regularity. In fact, that opening shot of a dry desert while Elvis sings of snow on the ground is perhaps the single, most creative moment in the film. 2003’s Bad Santa, with all its denigration of the Christmas spirit, emerged with an eventual heart in it’s own defamed, perverted way. Bad Santa 2 is just bad. If you hate Christmas then this belongs to you. Please, take it. It’s yours.
MPAA Rating: R Length: 92 Minutes Overall Rating: 2 (out of 10)