NOTHING says Christmas like an old, miserable, offensive, potty-mouthed alcoholic.
There is usually one at every family lunch on Christmas Day, but the twist in Bad Santa is that he is in the guise of the generous jolly fat man who is supposed to make the season extra-special for children.
The simplistic, one-joke idea from 2003 that flips the cliche of a sweet, respectable community member on its head has spawned a couple of spin-offs (Bad Teacher, Bad Moms) and returns safely to routine for this belated sequel, Bad Santa 2.
Con man Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) reteams with former sidekick Marcus (Tony Cox), who double-crossed and tried to kill him, to steal millions from a Chicago charity.
A third unexpected party in the plan is Willie’s deadbeat mum Sunny (Kathy Bates).
Meanwhile, Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly) is all grown up and still following Willie around like a lost puppy.
To give you an idea (in case you didn’t already know) of what to expect, one elderly couple walked out before the halfway mark of the preview screening immediately after the graphic description of a sexual act.
The easily-offended need not bother, but to anyone else who can get a few laughs out of a handful of miserable characters indulging in debauchery, then grab a ticket.
The expletive-laden insults these characters hit each other with like machine gun bullets are funny because they are all so equally deplorable that perhaps an ordinarily iffy insult is less likely to offend.
We saw Kathy Bates turn psycho in Misery, but this time she plays trailer trash with equal ease.
If the 13-year-old Bad Santa is still fresh in your noggin, this sequel may feel like a blatant copy and paste, but with a bit of distance some laughs can be had.
Bad Santa 2 (MA)
Directed by: Mark Waters
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Tony Cox
Three and a half stars
Review by Julian Wright
In cinemas now