In the 13 years that have passed since the first Bad Santa, two hugely talented actors from the cast died -- RIP Bernie Mac and John Ritter. Both were supporting players whose personalities outsized their roles. Now, Kathy Bates swallows up all the open air left by their absence and belches it out with the stench of a nasty, give-no-fucks woman with a buzz cut who'll take a shit with the door open -- that moment drew a voluminous gasp-laugh from the women in our audience.
In the opening scene, a carefree Willie Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) ogles a breastfeeding mother in slow motion and crashes his convertible into a valet stand. Yeah, that wasn't his car, and he's fired. Willie hasn't shaken the rotund idiot-kid Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly), who's grown up to be a curious, virginal sandwich artist at Hungry Hoagies. And Willie obviously hasn't learned his lesson from the last Christmas heist in a mall that went awry, in the original Bad Santa; against all his better judgment, he takes off for Chicago for another score with mastermind Marcus (Tony Cox) -- who also tried to kill him.
Now, they're ripping off a charity org, and Willie's long-lost loudmouth biker mom Sunny (Kathy Bates) is the ringleader. Sunny is smart-assier than all the men combined. She scalds with the darkest, most mindfuckiest burns as the ultimate Mommy Dearest. Still, Bad Santa 2 is no Blazing Saddles. It's not scathing political commentary but a bleary-eyed view of humanity at its worst -- something to laugh at as we simultaneously disavow it.