Bad Santa 2: Offensive, Crude, Brilliant

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I sat in an empty theater Sunday watching Billy Bob Thornton attempt to kill himself multiple times, and I was laughing my ass off.

Picking up a decade after the first film. “Bad Santa 2” shows the misadventures of Willie Soke (Thornton), an undereducated low-life who happens to be a deft hand at safecracking thanks to the tutelage of his despicable mother Sunny (Kathy Bates). Within ten minutes, a narration from Soke kills off the supposedly happy ending of the first film and puts him in a fleabag hotel, ready to die.

After leaving a suicide note with multiple spelling errors, Soke turns on his oven and sticks his head in, an attempt to commit suicide via gas inhalation. The audience sees a shot of the inside of the oven with Thornton’s head inside, eyes closed, waiting for death.

Then the heating elements of his electric stove begin to glow red, and the viewer can almost see the gears turning in Soke’s head as he realizes it won’t work. I haven’t laughed that hard in a theater since some of the better jokes in “Keanu.”

The rest of the movie involves Soke, his mother and returning character Marcus Skidmore (Tony Cox) casing a Chicago charity with plans to steal over $2 million in cash on Christmas Eve.

It turns out the only way to make a legitimately funny crude comedy in 2016 is to put out a pointless sequel to a mildly successful thirteen year old movie.

Traditionally I avoid reviewing comedies for The Shield due to most theatrically released comedies sacrificing their comedic potential to reach the lowest common armchair-surfing, popcorn-munching denominator (see my reviews for “Get Hard” and “Sausage Party”).

“Bad Santa 2” is a hilarious exception to the norm. It seems the writers, cast and crew conspired to make a legitimately funny offensive comedy instead of aiming for public appeal, because what I saw projected on that screen didn’t give a flying reindeer what the international gross might be.

This plan seems to have worked insofar as I laughed out loud nine times throughout the course of the film, smirking for the rest of it. This is a hard feat to accomplish when I’m left alone with no friends or audience energy to work off of. Comedies are funnier with crowds, yet “Bad Santa 2” still works in a silent room.

Of course, in the sense that “Bad Santa 2” is a commercial venture, their plan has failed spectacularly. The movie has been out for sixteen days as of this publication, and it still needs to gross $10 million before breaking even. To put it bluntly, this movie has failed.

That being said, if the poorly-constructed jokes of “Sausage Party” left you lusting for some genuinely hilarious offensive comedy that crosses just enough lines to keep you uncomfortable.

Billy Bob Thornton plays the perfect flawed protagonist with a heart of gold and delivers plenty of good laughs, but Kathy Bates absolutely steals the show with her performance as an irredeemably bad person.

It won’t make a difference in the movie’s overall success, but “Bad Santa 2” is definitely worth your ticket money before heading home for the holidays.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)