Film: ** 1/2 out of 5
Extras: ** 1/2
Article first published on Blogcritics.org
The first Bad Santa
came out of nowhere and wound up being a delightfully raunchy surprise.
It honestly shouldn’t have been too surprising considering it was
directed by Terry Zwigoff (Crumb, Ghost World), written by the duo of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (This Is Us, I Love You Phillip Morris),
and produced by Joel and Ethan Coen. Along with an amazing cast, they
delivered an instant holiday classic for adults. Helped considerably by
Billy Bob Thornton’s lovably seedy turn as Willie, it was only a matter
of time before a sequel came along. Unfortunately, Bad Santa 2
got stuck in development hell for 13 years. Considering it took as long
as it did to finally hit theaters, it’s a wonder director Mark Waters’s
film has any laughs at all.
It’s been a long time since Willie and
Marcus (Tony Cox) have seen each other. That’s what happens when your
partner turns on you, leaving you to get shot by the police and serve
your time. But Willie is every bit as surly as ever. He may hate his
life, but soon enough, Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly) arrives with a
mis-delivered package, and the opportunity to reunite with Marcus. Turns
out, Marcus wants to offer Willie a piece of a huge score worth
millions of dollars in Chicago. And just wouldn’t you know it, the real
mastermind winds up being Willie’s estranged mother Sunny (Kathy Bates).
A conspiracy is brewing and Sunny wants to defraud a homeless charity
run by Diane Hastings (Christina Hendricks), whose husband Regent (Ryan
Hansen) is stealing from. Now, the crew is back together to make, and
settle, the score.
Broad Green Pictures has released Bad Santa 2
in both 4K and standard Blu-ray, and includes the theatrical and
unrated versions. While I did not receive the 4K disc for review, it was
finished in 4K so I would have to imagine that while the picture looks
really good here, it should look even better on that disc. Colors are
bright, almost verging in bloom, with some reds having a pink tone.
Details are impeccable — sometimes for better and worse — with no
technical anomalies. Banding, aliasing, and crush are nonexistent. As
was the case with Billy Flynn’s Long Halftime Walk,
some improvement can be made in the realm of shadows. Blacks aren’t as
dark as they could be, but if they were — as was the case with Billy Flynn
— it would result in the loss of detail. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
gets the job done. The film is a comedy after all so don’t expect to be
overwhelmed with surround usage. Music never drowns out the dialogue, so
don’t worry, you’ll never miss any of Willie’s snide remarks. An
additional Spanish 5.1 DTS Surround track is included, along with
English and Spanish subtitles.
It may not necessarily seem like a
film ripe for an abundance of special features, but there are a lot
stuffed in its sack. Kicking things off is a quick looks at how much
Thurman hasn’t changed over the last 13 years — “Thurman Then & Now”
(2:27). They joke about how Kelly has grown up and slimmed down so he
was asked to put back on 50 pounds and bleach/perm his hair. “Just Your
Average Red Band Featurette” (2:00) is a chance for the cast to let off
some more profanities. “That’s My Willie” (3:51) is an original animated
series featuring the misadventures of Willie and Thurman. “Jingle
Balls” (0:35) is a quick reimagining of “Jingle Bells” using swears from
the film. “Trailers and Spots” (7:14) is a collection of, well, the
film’s trailers and internet spots.
A “Gag Reel” (3:59) is every bit as
unfunny as the finished film. “Alternate Opening” (1:00) reintroduces us
to Willie working as a janitor. “Deleted Scenes” (2:41) aren’t
separated and offer nothing more to the shenanigans. “Alternate Ending”
(2:49) is completely forgettable, but revolves around Willie learning
life lessons. And finally, a gigantic offering of “Sneak Peeks” includes
trailers for 14 films(!): Bridget Jones’s Baby, Last Days in the Desert, Knight of Cups, Song of Lahore, Break Point, 10,000 KM, Samba, Eden, I Smile Back, Learning to Drive, The Infiltrator, A Walk in the Woods, 99 Homes, and The Dark Horse. The last four all front-loaded for your skipping pleasure.
It’s too bad that absolutely none of the original creative team returned, because Bad Santa 2
really needed it. Simply slapping the ol’ Santa suit on Thornton and
have him act(?) drunk while saying mean-spirited quips is not enough to
make up for its existence. The original still stands as one of the
funniest holiday films and thankfully, this one doesn’t tarnish its
name. Featuring great video, expected audio, and flat-lined special
features, only the first film’s biggest fans will find this a worthwhile
follow up. It’s far from the worst sequel ever made, but Bad Santa 2
is absolutely one of the most unnecessary. At least this one was not
the runaway success the first one was. There’s not a snowball’s chance
in hell we’ll have to endure a third round.