Zoolander 2 wasn't the only belated comedy sequel 2016 had to offer, we also got Bad Santa 2, the follow-up to the surprisingly good Bad Santa, released back in 2003. It's unclear why we got a second instalment this late in the game or who asked for it but the original was fun so hey, why not have a sequel?
Bad Santa was a refreshing remedy to corny, forgettable Christmas comedies: dirty jokes, Billy Bob Thornton in a Santa costume soiling himself, a heist plot. And yet it had just enough Christmas spirit to catch you off guard and work as both a seasonal treat and a dark comedy. In Bad Santa 2, we catch up to the same characters 13 years later as Marcus (Tony Cox) invites Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) to join him for one last job where they would be stealing millions from a charity in Chicago. This time, they are collaborating with Willie's mother Sunny (Kathy Bates) but a lot of back-stabbing quickly takes place. Meanwhile, an all grown up but still completely naive Thurman (Brett Kelly) decides to travel to Chicago in order to spend Christmas with Willie, despite the latter telling him to stay away. Christina Hendricks replaces the far more likeable Lauren Graham as Willie's love interest and, sadly, Bernie Mac and John Ritter are no longer with us so the supporting cast is forgettable.
With director Terry Zwigoff not at the helm and different writers handling this sequel, it's not exactly a surprise that it feels like a very different film, even if it does a lot of the same things. This is a much more vulgar and raunchier movie with everyone swearing non-stop, tons of questionable racial humour or insults aimed at Little People and foul sex scenes. By upping the raunchiness, the writers probably thought they were giving audiences more of what they liked the first time around but the increased vulgarity has the opposite effect entirely. The balance and contrast between vulgar and sweet was what made the original film work, without that you're left with a bunch of horrible people being horrible to each other for no reason and that's just not fun. Kelly's character is barely written into the film so when Bad Santa 2 finally tries to have a heart or a point it's too little too late.
As far as movies or sequels go, Bad Santa 2 isn't the worst but it's still a long way away from being as enjoyable as its predecessor. The whole thing is mean-spirited, borderline unpleasant at times and lacking in anything genuine as well as consistent laughs. Considering how good the three leads can be, this is a real let down.