Now this is where the fun part of being a film critic begins. How do you judge a sequel to a film you’ve never seen? If you dislike it, is it because you were fed the distilled aftertaste of what was once fresh, do you merely just not get what was so good about the franchise in the first place?

    Calling Bad Santa a franchise is generous, but if there were any plans for that they should be thrown into a fireplace and burned with the rest of the coal. This expired-milk-level dated sequel starts of bleak and disgusting and only gets worse from there. It confuses vulgarity and on-screen sex for comedy, and I had a hard time understanding why anybody would like this.

    Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) is first introduced failing at his valet job because he’s too busy looking at a breast-feeding mother. That’s lovely, and I don’t say that because I’m a prude (I’m not), but because that sadly is the cleverest joke in her. A few scenes later, we learn why Soke is so depressed; the love interest from the last film (Lauren Graham, who couldn’t reprise her role due to the Gilmore Girls reboot, smart move) left him, and now he’s stuck drinking and hating his life.

    Because Soke established as a miserable screw-up, this climaxes in two (!) separate suicide attempts, one which fails because he was too scared, and the other because a grown-up fat man named Thurman (Brett Kelly) interrupts to say hi to the man he always thought of was Santa.

    Thurman is the sweetest character in this miserable film, which naturally makes him the target of numerous mean barbs from Willie, Willie’s mom (Kathy Bates) and fellow slummer Marcus (Tony Cox). He’s portrayed as either extraordinary dim-witted or mentally challenged; neither explain why he idolizes a man that frequently insults him.

    Soke is approached by Marcus and his mother to rob a Chicago charity, an awful act which the movie hand waves by saying the owner (Ryan Hansen) pockets 98 percent of the money he raises. The problem with that logic is that 100 percent of the money should be going to the business, rather than to thieves (regardless if they’re on the inside or out). But don’t let that fact get in the way, cause it’s quickly buried under numerous f-bombs and sex jokes.

    How are they supposed to rob the charity? They infiltrate it as workers forced to dress up in Christmas attire, and rob the place on the night of a holiday choir performance. I don’t have social standards when I watch movies (after all, I saw a movie called Suicide Squad, which was full of horrible people), but who am I supposed to root for?

    Oh that’s right, all of this is supposed to be excused because it’s “black comedy”, meaning it’s meant to be so over-the-line in offensiveness it’s awful. Well it’s not really that shocking (people having sex in a bathroom OMG) and it definitely isn’t funny. Director Mark Waters seems to think that it’s funny to show people stealing and swearing over Christmas music; it’s a gag that’s semi-amusing the first time and grows increasingly pathetic afterwards.

    Everyone in this film looks tired, which matches the sluggish I-don’t-believe-this-is-only-92-minutes nature of the script. In fact, they probably should’ve renamed this film Tired Santa, because it’s not even inspired enough to be genuinely funny and horrible. 

    During the set-up for this heist (which involves beating on a man because Soke thinks he might be a child molester simply for asking him to be quiet), we also watch numerous women throw themselves at a disheveled and drunk Willie, for reasons I have know clue.  That includes the charity owner’s wife (Christina Hendricks), who’s established as a sex-crazed woman being cheated on by her husband. When Willie and the woman actually do it, it’s neither funny nor sexy, and is just another thing this film throws at your screen cause they assume you’ll laugh.

    I know there is such a thing as beer goggles (lord, do I know that), but I can’t imagine any woman going after Willie if you paid them. If you’re wondering why I’m so harsh about such a small detail, it’s because it’s symbolic of why this film is horrible. There’s never any attempt to explain why we should care or root for Willie or this plan to work. What, because he’s less mean to Truman than his mother is? That’s lazy screenwriting that I’ve seen surpassed in community college courses. 

    But here’s the truly funny thing about all of this; I wasn’t the only one in the theater, and there was a front row of older people laughing quite frequently at the jokes about boners and sons being referred to as “shit-sticks”. Apparently their bar for humor is much lower, which is why it’s hard to truly say I can’t recommend this.

    Who am I to say this isn’t funny? Because it’s stupid? Stupid is en vogue in America right now, so maybe people will think that a little dumb comedy that thinks that midgets swearing is hilarious. If that’s the case, they can play with coal and view it as gold. I’ll be waiting for a much better comedy in the meantime.

Published by Jagger Czajka