It’s very easy to be cynical about Christmas. From the early department store decorations to the barrage of tinsel everywhere, it’s understandable why the season grates. Such a time is ripe for mickey-taking which ‘Bad Santa 2’ does with glee. Hardly a comedy that would give Shakespeare pause, it also doesn’t wallow in fake sentimentality. It’s gritty and proud of it with the ‘bah humbug’ motif in overdrive with a Santa stores would hesitate to hire.
Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) is a thieving layabout always on the make. Scheming to steal more booty, he is ably assisted by sidekicks Marcus (Tony Cox) and Thurman (Brett Kelly). Aiming to knock off a charity on Christmas Eve, he dons a Santa suit to grab some loot. His plans go awry with the arrival of his horrid mother Sunny (Kathy Bates). As wicked as Willie, Sunny determines to score big. The bizarre rabble quickly scheme to bring their own black yuletide cheer while indulging in a spot of festive fisticuffs.
‘Bad Santa 2’ won’t win any Oscars and nor does it need to. It’s there to raise a few laughs at the expense of an over-hyped holiday period. It does this with ease as Mark Waters’ direction makes full use of the premise. Populated by a bunch of unlikeable miscreants, the plot goes from one gag to another. If one falls short there’s another quickly taking its place with the performer’s great comedic timing evident. Mostly free of bodily function jokes, the threadbare script makes an effort to create mirth which is welcome.
The cast is populated by old hands who know the routine by now. The main quartet of Thornton and company effortlessly gel as a team and manage to inject some humanity in their cartoonish characters. Their ability to switch from verbal to physical comedy is amusing to watch even if clichés creep into the screenplay. The entire film looks like a living comic book with plenty of colour and sound to keep the rhythm at a constant speed.
Although it’s a silly load of nonsense ‘Bad Santa 2’ offers breezy and crude laughs. A message or two can be found amongst the hijinks but it’s generally a vehicle for skewering the festive season. It does so well turning the once sacred motif of jingle bells into a definite version of unholy jingle hells.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 6
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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