2016 has been a bit of a disappointment when it comes to film. How disappointing is it? Not even a softball Christmas concept like Bad Santa 2 can rise above the muck to become a breath of darkly comedic cheer that we so desperately need. It's not that the movie doesn't work, as there's still some laughs and genuine moments of enjoyment that creep in periodically. It's just that this movie would have worked better if Bad Santa didn't exist in the first place.
Years after the events of Bad Santa, Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) is drawn into another big score by his former partner / would-be assassin, Marcus (Tony Cox.) This time, the team has another member of the Soke clan along for the ride, as Willie's mom Sunny (Kathy Bates) has hatched a plan to rob a charity in the heart of Chicago. As if this wasn't enough of a complication, Willie strikes up an interesting relationship with the head of said charity (Christina Hendricks), which may end up changing his life for the better.
To say that Bad Santa 2 is a rehash is putting it mildly. A lot of the same comedic and dramatic beats are retread throughout this film, making us ask the question, "How many times can Willie learn his lesson before he's finally behind bars?" The answer is probably for as many times as people have demanded a sequel to Bad Santa, which will probably end after the realization that no one asked for this film dawns on its distributors. There is nothing added to this film that makes it special or even worthy of following the already iffy Bad Santa. What this film benefits from is the performances of its cast, but even then there's not much to work with within the material given to the cast.
Thornton is charming and uncouth, as always, as Willie, while Marcus and Sunny are basically the same character, except one's dying and happens to be Willie's mother. Still, Cox and Bates do make a good dual foil for Billy Bob Thornton's antics, which makes one think of what sort of opportunities a better sequel could have afforded them. Also, someone please cast Christina Hendricks as the lead in a motion picture, already. She's more than proven herself in supporting roles, and just as equally deserves her moment in the spotlight.
If you liked Bad Santa, but are curious as to how Bad Santa 2 differs, follow the following formula: replace John Ritter with Christina Hendricks and Bernie Mac with Kathy Bates. Update some of the jokes, grow the kid up to legal drinking age, and throw a little extra salt in Billy Bob Thornton's insults. That's basically what you're getting with this "too little, too late" follow-up. While there are some moments that actually entertain throughout the film, in the end it's not unique enough to exist, or even give a damn about.
Most people are probably wondering why Bad Santa 2 didn't happen sooner. My guess is so that people forgot so much about what happened in the original Bad Santa that they'd be able to watch this film and claim it as a fresh, new product. Ho ho, no it isn't.