Review – Bad Santa 2 (2016)

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bad-santa-2-583fcf65c0690Truthfully, nothing every really pulled me in to see the first Bad Santa movie. Years after it was released, I eventually caved and checked it out, and it was…okay. It wasn’t phenomenal or anything, but it was okay. To say I was shocked when I heard there was going to be a sequel to it, I was somewhat shocked. In general, sequels to Christmas films don’t always do so well. In fact, it’s quite the opposite most of the time. So, did the world really need a Bad Santa 2?  Well, everyone’s thoughts and opinions might differ on that, so…let’s just get right into it.

Fueled by cheap whiskey, greed and hatred, Willie teams up once again with his angry little sidekick, Marcus, to knock off a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve. – IMDb

PEOPLE
★★★★★★★★★☆

 

  1.  Good Acting: ★☆
    • Other than a few select scenes, good acting wasn’t  necessary in Bad Santa 2. I’m not really worried, though, because in comedies, it’s often the last thing on their mind. Acting doesn’t mat audience laugh. So, all things considered, this is exactly what I expected. One star.
  2.  Good Characters: ★★
    • Now, when it comes to Bad Santa, you know the characters create a lasting impression. They do. You remember more than a drunk Billy Bob in a dirtied Santa Claus suit. You remember Tony Cox as the wise-cracking elf, you know the insanely weird kid that will never leave them alone, and now…with the second film, you have Willie’s mother, who curiously, but certainly not surprisingly, is found donning a Mrs. Claus outfit, completing the triangle. Trust me, the characters in this movie are a major plus. Two stars.
  3.  Good Casting: ★★
    • Now, the question really comes down to if the casting choice was right or not. I went on and off about this for a little while. I liked Billy Bob and Cox, but Kathy Bates…now, she, I was stuck on. Why? Well, a good portion of the movie, she plays a perfect Mrs. Claus. She looks and plays the part extremely well…and yeah, that’s actually a bad thing. Cox and Thornton are the “unlikely” candidates to play these Christmas icons…but she seemed to be perfect. So what gives? She simply plays the part better than the other two. Once she gets home, she’s as foul and dirty-looking as the others…which makes this a perfectly lovable triangle. Two stars.
  4.  Good Importance: ★★
    • We all know one main thing about this series, it’s about a group of criminals that shamelessly pull off robbery heists on Christmas, and one great thing about any heist film is that everyone plays a part. Everybody has a role to play, and there’s no exception here. The main plan was to rob a charity, they had to get inside, and once inside, everyone did something different in order to complete a master plan, and the puzzle wasn’t terrible. Two stars.
  5.  Good chemistry: ★★
    • Even though Billy Bob seems to have the same exact attitude and chemistry with absolutely everybody in the cast, it somehow works…that is what his character is all about. The real magic seems to come down to Kathy Bates and Thurman’s ultimate relationship with everyone else. They are really the only characters in the entire film that actually adds something new to the series, which we’ll get into later.

WRITING
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

 

  1.  Good Dialogue: ★★
    • Well, here’s an obvious one. When you’re talking about three wise-cracking main characters, you’re prone to have a bunch of great one-liners, and in general, hilarious and ridiculous dialogue that’s sure to have you laughing out loud. Two stars here.
  2.  Good Balance: ★☆
    • For the most part, this movie was balanced just fine, but in an effort to make the movie “bigger”, they clearly wanted to add as many Santa Claus people as they could, which washes down Willie’s character quite a bit. Sure, he’s focused on rather heavily, but sometimes with things like this, less is more. Part of it was smart, but the actual use of so many Santas in one scene is probably where they were over ambitious. One star.
  3.  Good Story: ★☆
    • Now, how was the story? Well, it was simply okay. I liked what minor changes there were, like the charity concept. The Santas hanging outside of shops and corners holding buckets for The Salvation Army or whatever. This wasn’t Salvation Army, but that’s clearly where the inspiration came from. I thought that part was pretty smart,  and I like the idea of adding someone to the group…but other than that, the story was really similar to the first movie. One star.
  4.  Original: ★☆
    • Well, like I just said, the originality was hardly there. I’ll give it credit for the fact that it wasn’t entirely ripped off the first movie, but because a ton of it actually was, I can’t help but give this only one star. Sorry, I just think after all this time, they could have freshened something more than this for a sequel.
  5.  Interesting: ★★
    • Bringing it back for the writing category is how interesting it is. If there’s a sequel in the first place, then it’s interesting enough to check out, no matter how good or bad it is. That being said, the characters are definitely interesting from the get-go. They always have been, so in that case – two stars.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

 

  1.  Visuals: ★☆
    • I would say that when it comes down to the visuals, there’s just nothing unique enough to warrant a discussion. Bad Santa 2 is simply a basic-looking movie. It never tries to look great, nor does it even look like crap. Purely basic, that’s it.
  2.  Directing:
    • Here’s another basic subcategory, directing. The script to this film was firstly similar to the original movie, and it was also an easy script. So, do I think it was really difficult to do their job? Not necessarily. Basic is the magic word for the BTS category. Basic, basic, basic.
  3.  Editing: ★☆
    • Once again, basic, basic, basic. I didn’t see anything wrong with the editing, nor did I see any real challenge an editor would have, either. Business as usual in the editor’s room.
  4.  Advertisement: ★★
    • I said two stars here, because the movie is exactly as it was advertised. You’d be surprised how many times movies aren’t as advertised (in a bad way), so for me, this is a plus when they’re honest.
  5.  Music: ★★
    • Well, I mean…it’s a Christmas movie. They only really had one thing they had to do: play Christmas music, which they do. Actually, there’s a certain scene towards the end where music specifically adds to the plot itself, so I’d obviously give this one two stars. Good job, guy!

NARRATIVE ARC
★★★★★★★★★☆

 

  1.  Introduction: ★★
    • Alrighty, heading into the narrative arc. The introduction in this film is getting re-introduced to our beloved characters. Specifically speaking, we see that Willie hasn’t been living a luxurious life at all, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. He spends most of his time unsuccessfully trying to kill himself.
  2.  Inciting Incident/Crossing the Threshold: ★★
    • The inciting incident comes when Willie is offered to get back in on his life of crime. He needs time to decide whether or not he wants to do that because he has some major trust issues. Anyway, the crossing of the threshold comes, obviously, when he ultimately decides to join the deal of a lifetime and rob a Christmas charity.
  3.  Obstacles: ★★
    • Well, this is sort of where the multiple Santas and the charity come into play. There’s a lot of loops in their plan that they have to go through in order to pull this off. These loops, of course, provide our obstacles in the film.
  4.  Epiphany/Climax: ★★
    • Of course, I won’t spoil anything, but there is a perfectly fine climax found in this film. Usually, that’s the case, but you never know.
  5.  Falling Action: ★☆
    • I gave this one star, because while there was a falling action, it was rushed through, because the story they wanted to tell was over. It could have been better.

OVERALL ENTERTAINMENT
★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

 

  1.  Rewatchability: ★☆
    • One star means “maybe”, I might rewatch this some day. I don’t really see me seeking it out in order to do that, but I wouldn’t put it past me to check it out again.
  2.  Fun:
    • Yeah, Bad Santa 2 is fun.
  3.  Impulse to buy it: ☆☆
    • No, not really. I’m fine with not owning the first movie, and I’m also fine not owning the second one, either.
  4.  Impulse to talk to someone about it: ☆☆
    • I won’t be having any conversations about this movie with anyone anytime soon.
  5.  Sucks the audience in: ★☆
    • Yes and no. It sucks you in more towards the beginning of the movie, but as it continues, it does lose a little oomph.

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CHRISTMAS
★★★★★★★★★★

 

The first category from or specialty categories written for Bad Santa 2 before watching it, was “Christmas”. What this means, is…does it feel like a Christmas movie. Do the themes match, is the music there, does it feel weird to watch after the new year, because it’s no longer the holiday season? Yes, yes, and yes. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a Christmas film. I know that’s  a weird category, but you gotta cover your bases, man!

SEQUEL
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

 

The next specialty category is “sequel”, which is a category I’ve used in the past. This category covers a few different things like…does it fit in with the universe, do the characters bounce back, does it warrant a sequel, should it be a trilogy? For this category, I’ve found that for the most part, that’s all true, but at the same time, I don’t believe it warranted a sequel, nor do I think they should continue it either. That means even though it already had a sequel, I’d again be shocked if they planned to make it a trilogy. So for this category, I give it five stars.

COMEDY
★★★★★★★★★★

 

Well, of course, I have to add “comedy” as a specialty category. Again, this is a category I’ve used in the past, as well. The main question, of course, comes down to if it’s funny or not. I’ll admit that it’s definitely funny in multiple parts. I was laughing out loud (while watching alone), which isn’t always the easiest thing to accomplish.  This was also one of the main plusses with Bad Santa 2. 

ADDS SOMETHING NEW
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

 

As I mentioned before, the two things added this time around was Willie’s mother and the grown-up Thurman. I guess you can add in the slightly differing plot revolving around a charity. The rest of it is simply the same-old, same-old. Which again, isn’t what I want to see. It has been nearly 15 years since the last movie, and you can’t make anything original enough? I’m sorry, but five stars, here.

HALFWAY DECENT
★★★★★★★★★★

 

Finally, the final category – is Bad Santa 2 halfway decent? I always consider if a movie is halfway decent because movies need to be recognized for the effort they put in, in general. So how bout it? Is this movie halfway decent? Yes, it’s halfway decent, but I wouldn’t say much more than “half”, but that still warrants 10 stars.

RATING: 76/100

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