Some sequels I've never understood the reason or justification for, and you could easily slot Bad Santa 2 in there. The first film was a modest success financially and critically, but after seeing that one many moons ago and seeing the sequel now, I'm still left begging for the question ‘why this is here?' to be answered.
Shauna Cross (Whip It) co-writes the script with first-time feature writer Johnny Rosenthal, with Mark Waters (Mr. Popper's Penguins) directing. Billy Bob Thornton (Our Brand Is Crisis) returns as safecracker Willie Soke, bumming around in Arizona by himself, bordering on suicide, until he gets an offer from his fresh out of jail friend Marcus (Tony Cox, Oz the Great and Powerful) for a job, but unbeknownst to Willie, it involves her mother Sunny (Kathy Bates, The Boss). So Willie has to figure out whether he wants to do the job and work with his mother while doing all the stuff that brought Willie to be a bad Santa in the first place. Or not. Generally.
So…yeah. I'm not going to lie, I don't know the motivation for this movie to exist. To be clear, I know that Thornton has a sneaky kind of Samuel L. Jackson factor in this movie (for white people) where the more he gets to talk smack about someone (or anyone he comes in contact with) that the better the movie is, but the truth of the matter is he does that, but not a lot else. The scenes with Bates as his mother are kind of cute in the sense that a lot of what the redeemable character does is in an attempt to redeem himself, but another portion of it is catering to a (dare I say it?) mythology of Willie Soke, which while admirable doesn't really do anything special here.
Thornton's performance seems to walk along those lines, despite the addition of Christina Hendricks (Drive) as the closest thing to a love interest he has in the film in order to express some form of emotional range. Cox' return to the film provides the closest thing to effort that is has, along with Brett Kelly, who plays Thurman, a pure source of naivete from the first film that serves as the closest thing to a heart Willie has in lieu of the one that's serving as a functional purpose in this film.
You want to know why there is a Bad Santa 2? Well, in the promotional material on this disc, Thornton said "…all I care about is people who liked the first movie." If you fall into this area, you will like the film, generally, because frankly it tries to do too much with te character that the script doesn't allow much for. Combine that with the palpable feeling that Thornton got a bunch of cash and nobody to tell him to actually CARE about this, and you are left still wondering why there was a sequel to Bad Santa or what unanswered questions were left to be resolved.The Blu-ray:
There is an AVC encode that goes with the 92 minute theatrical cut or the 95 minute unrated one, both in 1.85:1 widescreen and without any notable complaint. The film has establishing shots to convey the Chicago background but was filmed in Monteal and image detail be it in Thornton's face or Bates' tattoos is sharp as can be. Whether it's the grays of winter or the reds in a Santa robe colors are reproduced faithfully and without concern and the overall image is excellent.The Sound:
DTS HD MA 5.1 lossless surround which sounds as good as can be, with the closest thing to it being the fender bender Willie gets in early on in the movie, with a mild low end engagement that serves to show you what the soundtrack is capable of. Nevertheless, it does little after that, with channel panning and directional effects present though not active and consistent to convey a nice sonic immersion layer to them. It's not reference quality by any means but it does sound clear as a bell on Blu-ray.The Extras:
Well, "Thurman Then & Now" (2:00) looks at the character in both films, "Just Your Average Red Band Featurette" (2:00) is an EPK with cursing, "That's My Willie" (3:51) is an animated short on two characters from the film, 2 red band trailers and 4 TV spots (7:14) follow. A gag reel (3:59) has some funny Cox stuff, while the alternate opening (1:00) and ending (2:49) are forgettable, as are three deleted scenes (2:41), save for one.Final Thoughts:
For as much as Bad Santa 2 could have served as a vanity project to Billy Bob Thornton bedding a lot of women in crap settings, the film is…yeah, precisely that and that's not a good thing. Technically it looks and sounds good, but comes off as Billy Bob banging a bevy of birds with below average breaking up. Like Thornton says, if you really like the first movie, the second movie is perfect for you.