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.