Netflix and Chill: Bad Santa 2 (2016)
Kevthewriter was bored enough to sit through Bad Santa 2.
Bad Santa was a pretty funny movie with a great cast and set of characters. But I didn’t really think there needed to be a sequel, I was happy where it ended. In fact I skipped the sequel because I didn’t think it was necessary and the fact that the reviews weren’t that great didn’t help make me more enthusiastic for it.
But I was bored, the sequel’s on Netflix, and I didn’t have much else to do so, for curiosity’s sake, I decided to watch it. After all, there are sequels that everyone hated that I didn’t think were too bad like Dumb and Dumber Too (okay, it wasn’t good but I’ve seen worse) and…Dumb and Dumber Too? I dunno, I try to skip out on comedy sequels because most of them are pointless. But, who knows, maybe it’ll be good. Last year’s Barbershop: The Next Cut was hardly a great movie but it had its heart in the right place.
So was it one of the few good comedy sequels? Nah, it’s…it’s basically another bad comedy sequel.
Like many comedy sequels, it basically has the same plot as the first one. Remember how the first one was about Willie (Billy Bob Thornton’s character) trying to throw a big heist on Christmas but realizing that, deep, deep, WAY deep down, he just had too much of a heart to do so despite being a cynical curmudgeon?
Well, this movie is ALSO about Willie trying to throw a big heist on Christmas but realizes that, way, way deep down, he has too much of a heart to do so even though he seems like he’s a complete jerk. He even pretends to be Santa, just like last time, and Marcus, the dwarf played by Tony Cox, again pretends to be an elf. And that’s hardly where the similarities end. In this one, he again falls in love with a nice woman who has a very perverted side. In the first one, it was the nice bartender lady played by Lauren Graham while in this one, it’s a lady who owns the charity he’s trying to rob who really does believe in helping out the kids.
In this one, there is another person working for the place they are robbing that’s secretly stealing from the place themselves and is helping Willie and Marcus. In the first one, it was Bernie Mac’s security guard character, Gin, who tried cutting in on Willie and Marcus’s profits, and in this one, it’s Willie’s Mom, whose trying to rob from the place while pretending to be a volunteer for the charity.
There’s also a character whose overly dedicated to their job. Funny enough, in this one, it’s actually the security guard instead of the mall manager. Bad Santa 2 rehashes the first one so much that what basically gets Willie to again change his ways and not rob the charity is spending some time with Thurman, the kid who (kinda) stole his heart in the original.
Well, kinda. While it was basically just spending time with the kid that made him at least try to do the right thing by the end of the first movie, here it kinda seems muddled exactly what makes him change his ways. It seems like it’s going to be him bonding with the head of the charity that’s going to make him change his ways but then, after a couple of scenes of them bonding, she’s just kinda reduced to being a lady who likes to have sex with him. There’s a couple of scenes where he bonds with his estranged mother that (for Bad Santa) are played almost completely straight (they do bond by having her buy him a gun which is why I say almost) but she turns out to be an irredeemable bad guy in the end and he basically tries shooing Thurman away for the whole movie but spends about 5 minutes bonding with him and that also seems to be enough for him to decide to change.
I dunno, it just seemed like the attempts at character development were a bit more believable in the first movie while here it comes off as kinda sloppy. But all of that wouldn’t really matter if the movie was funny. Again, the first Bad Santa was hardly a masterpiece but it was hilarious. Here though? I laughed only about 4 times.
The acting is also surprisingly bad. One thing great about the first movie is that every actor was hilarious from Willie himself to Marcus to The Kid to Bernie Mac to John Ritter to even Cloris Leachman doing nothing but sleeping throughout the entire movie. Of the new cast members, Kathy Bates and Christina Hendricks try their best but their characters aren’t that funny or memorable. The guy playing The Security Guard is also awful and completely wooden in the part. Of the returning actors, Billy Bob Thornton does slip back in the role nicely but Tony Cox phones it in this time around and keeps sounding like he’s reading off of a teleprompter and the gag of Thurman still acting exactly the same as he did when he was 8 as he did when he is 21 is more annoying than funny and the actors’ performance doesn’t really help. It’s just the character was funnier and more charming when he was being played by someone who was 10 than someone who is 23.
The movie’s tone is also rather inconsistent. The first movie was pretty much cynical from beginning to end and even when it did try to get a little sentimental, the characters still said crass things in those scenes to keep it from getting sappy. Here, though, there are sentimental scenes that are played completely straight and feel out of place in Bad Santa (including a scene where Willie gets touched by Thurman singing in a choir that has no jokes in it whatsoever).
And then there’s Marcus. As I said before, Tony Cox completely mails in his performance this time around. Of course, as you’ve probably guessed, the movie makes fun of his height. A lot. So did the other movie so I can’t say I really have a problem with that while letting the first one get a pass for it. But in the first movie Marcus did at least defend himself a bit and was somewhat of a credible threat at points as he managed to kill someone and almost killed the main character. Here, though, he is portrayed as being completely ineffectual and is always the butt of the joke without him ever getting the last laugh.
I think the problem here is that, in the original, while he was the movies’ source of dwarf jokes, it wasn’t his only role in the movie as he was also the straight man to Willie’s antics. But, with Willie playing the straight man to his Mom this time around, it leaves Marcus with nothing to really do so he basically only becomes a living dwarf joke and nothing else.
That all being said, is this the worst sequel ever? No.
Is this the worst comedy sequel? No.
At the end of the day, though, it’s basically just another sequel that didn’t need to exist to a movie that was just fine as its own thing.