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Film Review: Bad Santa 2 - lewd & crude heist antics bring mayhem to Chicago

21 Nov 2016

Cast your mind back to thirteen years ago, when the very first Bad Santa film made an entrance into the world of film. The foul-talking, crackpot styles of one Billy Bob Thornton as the ever-drunk Santa - and Tony Cox as the ever-appalled ‘sidekick’ - took the concept of Christmas to some inappropriately hilarious bad heights.

Fast forward to 2016: the year of Hollywood reboots and sequels. Bad Santa is no exception. This November, the film’s drunker sibling has arrived on the scene. Welcome to Bad Santa 2.

The not-so-appropriate jokes have been racked up a notch, as have the not-so-PC jokes. It’s lewd and crude, but it’s also kind of sweet, in that odd family bonding kind of way.

If you’ve seen the first film, you know what to expect. The cast is older, the girls stay young, and you start to realise how a guy ended up in these situations with dysfunctional parents.

Speaking of the main character, poor old Willie (Billy Bob Thornton). He’s older, greyer, but not really any wiser, and he hasn’t really gotten far in life since his last stint as a mall Santa/robbery heist expert. But he has forged a lifelong bond with the kid who took such a shine to him all those years ago, Thurman Murman (Brett Kelly).

You’d think Willie would know better than to trust his former compatriot Marcus (Tony Cox), after what happened last time. But that, in combination with a new face – his mother Sunny Soke (Kathy Bates), makes it almost irresistible.

Here we go again! This time we get to see a heist in Chicago in winter, and all the main cast reprising their roles.

We also get to see Diane (Christina Hendricks) and Gina (Jenny Zigrino) as… well... I want to call them ‘eye candy’ but if you’ve seen the first film, it shouldn’t be hard to work out what I really mean.

There’s Dorfman (Jeff Skowron), Regent Hastings (Ryan Hansen) and a supporting cast who add to the film’s mayhem, deception, bumbling investigation and ultimate conclusion.

And yet, under it all, the bond between adopted family shines through. Unlike Willie’s real family. Why is his nickname 'Shitstick'? You’ll find out.

Direction-wise, it’s decent, though nothing amazing. Mark Waters does a good job of showcasing Chicago’s ‘ice box’ climate in winter, while writers Johnny Rosenthal and Shauna Cross hold the storyline together with no gaping plot holes.

A commendable scene involving a Santa party made for a spectacular sea of red and white, much like a game of Where’s Wally. That’s something to go down as a memorable situation.

All in all, Bad Santa 2 is funnily formulaic; it’s not too different from the original but it’s a change of scenery and a few new cast members, but ultimately it’s a bit of un-PC fun. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but if you liked the first film and/or you like the look of the trailer, it’s worth pencilling in your diary.

This film is definitely not for everyone, and definitely not for children, lest they start wanting hand grenades for Christmas.

Bad Santa 2 is in cinemas from November 24.

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