REVIEW / COMEDY CRIME
BAD SANTA 2 (R21)
92 minutes/Opens tomorrow/3.5/5 stars
The story: Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) is at a dead end in his life. When his former elf suit-wearing partner in crime Marcus (Tony Cox) turns up with a proposition for a job, he reluctantly goes along. How will Willie cope with the appearance of his hated mother Sunny (Kathy Bates) and the unquestioning loyalty of the one person who truly cares about him - the simple-minded Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly)?
All that Christmas cheer starting to get you down? Never fear - here is Bad Santa to the rescue.
In the 2003 film, Willie was a department store Saint Nick with a difference.
The persona was merely a cover for the professional thief to get into malls at night.
There were reportedly 300 profanities uttered over the course of that uproarious, no-holds-barred movie.
Forget milk and cookies - he would rather have a drink and adult activities.
In case it is not clear, do not bring your little ones to this new movie.
Fans will be relieved that Willie remains incorrigible in the sequel - there has been no attempt to make him over.
Mark Waters (Mean Girls, 2004), taking over directorial duty from Terry Zwigoff (Crumb, 1994), maintains the tone of a black comedy generously topped with much swearing and boozing.
Key members of the cast - an excellent Thornton, a hilarious Cox and a deadpan Kelly - return, but not Lauren Graham (TV's Gilmore Girls), who had played Willie's love interest. So he gets to ogle charity organisation exec Diane, played by Christina Hendricks.
Bates (Misery, 1990), playing Willie's tattooed biker-chick mother, is a brilliant addition to the cast. Her entry shows why he has issues - after all, her term of endearment for him is "s**t stick".
Just when one thinks the shock factor of a foul-mouthed Saint Nick (and his equally potty-mouthed mother) could wear off, there are still quite a few highlights here, including two Santas having a punch-up.
Despite everything, Willie is not a complete jerk and there is a tender moment or two to be found.
Still, if it is redemption and the warm fuzzies of a happy ending that you want, go watch It's A Wonderful Life (1946).