A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bad Santa 2 is the ultra-vulgar, ultra-mature sequel to 2003's Bad Santa. Expect tons of sexual content: The main character (played by Billy Bob Thornton) has sex with more than one woman and finds himself in other sexual situations. Plus, there's frequent graphic sex talk, and testicles are shown at one point. Language is also extremely strong and pretty much constant; just about every word under the sun is heard, including "f--k," "s--t," and more. The main character is an alcoholic who's frequently shown drinking, drunk, vomiting, and even stealing liquor. (He does go to an AA meeting in one scene.) The sequel is less violent than the original, but there is a sequence with guns and shooting, as well as a brutal fight scene and an attempted suicide.
What's the story?
In BAD SANTA 2, which is set a decade after the events of 2003's Bad Santa, safe cracker Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) is still having trouble holding onto an honest job, and he still drinks too much. Then his old partner in crime, Marcus (Tony Cox), appears. Marcus wants a truce, and he has a job offer for Willie: They'll put on their Christmas outfits again and rob a crooked charity organization in Chicago. Willie reluctantly agrees but is nonplussed when he discovers that his nasty, estranged mother (Kathy Bates) is also in on the scheme. To make matters worse, the grown Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly), who considers Willie family, suddenly shows up, too. The thieves then face a set of comic hurdles, as well as possible betrayals, before they can get to their prize.
Is it any good?
The original Bad Santa found just the right tone for its dark, vulgar humor -- but this sequel feels like a too-little, too-late attempt to recapture faded glory. Much of the behind-the-scenes talent -- including director Terry Zwigoff, co-writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, and producers Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (who also contributed uncredited rewrites to the screenplay) -- didn't return for the follow-up. The director is now Mark Waters (Vampire Academy, etc.), and his flat handling of the material simply can't uncover any comedy gold.
Plus, while Willie was hilarious in the original, 10 years later on, his drinking is no longer funny; it's rather sad. Willie's former bond with Marcus is now strained, though he does share some warm moments with the now-grown-up Thurman. And, unexpectedly, Oscar winner Bates provides some moments of acting brilliance in her role as Willie's awful, tattooed, buzz-cut mother. Overall, Bad Santa 2 has a couple of chuckles here and there, but it's likely this lackluster sequel will be on very few holiday wish lists.
Talk to your kids about ...
What role does sex play in the movie? Is it connected in any way to love or passion? What do the characters get from it? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
How is violence used in the movie? Is it used for laughs? Thrills? How does the fact that the movie is a comedy affect the impact of the violence?
How does the sequel compare to the original? Why do you think it took so long between movies?
- In theaters: November 23, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: February 21, 2017
- Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Tony Cox
- Director: Mark Waters
- Studio: Broad Green Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Holidays
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: crude sexual content and language throughout, and some graphic nudity
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.