Bad Santa 2 (2016)

Although it’s a direct sequel to Terry Zwigoff’s cult classic, “Bad Santa 2” has little in common with the original. For starters, the tone here is much darker: The original wasn’t exactly light but this one is depressingly dark. In that sense, it feels like almost like an antidote to the original’s surprising sweetness, and it revels in punishing its characters in surprisingly nasty, hopeless ways. There’s also the returning characters (other than Billy Bob Thornton’s Willy), who seem to be acting in different movies altogether, which makes the movie feel inconsistent as though the finished product represents two disparate approaches to comedy that don’t quite match up. Overall however, the movie is often compelling specifically because of its darkness, which draws the audience’s attention away from its vulgarity and instead redirects it instead towards its grim but cathartic humor. It’s certainly not for everyone, but it’s not nearly as bad as its reputation suggests.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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