Bad Santa 2

Director: Mark Waters (2016) BBFC cert: 15

Where the original Bad Santa (2003) was a fresh feast of ferocious bad taste, this smells of stale beer and leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

It’s been 13 long years since Billy Bob’s Thornton’s drunk safe cracker first stumbled across our screens. That’s a year longer gap than the one between the recent Bridget Jones threequel and its predecessor.

Whereas Bridget Jones’ Baby (2016) improved on Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Bad Santa 2 fails to recapture the coarse Christmas magic of its predecessor.

The original cast of Thornton, Tony Cox and Brett Kelly return, with a tattooed Kathy Bates and a rampant Christina Hendricks as added value elements. The cast gamely debase themselves in pursuit of gags and back alley sex. That isn’t and is a euphemism. You can take it either way.

As perma-drunk Willie T. Stokes, Thornton’s dead pan drawl almost makes this worth seeing. But Cox and Kelly are stuck on repeat, Bates enjoys her performance more than we do and poor Hendricks receives the butt of the worst writing. As a bad girl gone good going bad, the star of TV’s Mad Men plays a punchline to a non-joke in search of a character.

Stokes teams up with his mother and his former partner to rob a Chicago charity. There’s no honour among thieves and are soon plotting against each other. Thin jokes are stretched over the lightest of plots and the cynically ageist, sexist, sizeist, racist and foul mouthed dialogue confuses abuse with wit.

Everyone involved should be put on Santa’s naughty list.

@ChrisHunneysett

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