The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with resolutely unsentimental emotion. So it's very disappointing that this 13-years-later sequel reassembles the cast then merely coasts on the vulgarity, never bothering to develop the characters or plot. It's just as rude, and it provides some solid laughs along the way, but the story never engages the audience, which leaves the movie feeling naughty but never nice.
Over these years, Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) has continued his slacker lifestyle into his early 60s. He still lives in Phoenix, and has continued to try to ignore the attentions of the sweetly naive Thurman (Brett Kelly), who has just turned 21. Then Willie's treacherous ex-cohort Marcus (Tony Cox) gets out of prison and approaches him with a big heist. Against his better judgement, Willie accompanies him to Chicago, where two nasty surprises await: the plan is to steal millions from a children's charity, and Willie's estranged mother Sunny (Kathy Bates) is organising the robbery. Annoyed, Willie instantly falls for the sexy Diane (Christina Hendricks), who is married to the charity's shifty boss (Ryan Hansen). Meanwhile, Marcus tries to seduce a security guard (Jenny Zigrino). And Thurman turns up unannounced.
It's depressing that, after years of talk about a sequel, this haphazard plot is the best the writers could come up with. Every element of the narrative is deeply contrived to merely string together a series of filthy jokes, rude insults, noisy sex and criminal slapstick. All of this would have been welcome if the comedy sprang from the messy relationships or personalities. But everything is so static and pointless that there's nothing to hold the audience's attention, aside from a number of witty gags that pop up out of nowhere. So at least there are a few solid laughs.
Continue reading: Bad Santa 2 Review
Scoundrels gets off to a sluggish start as it introduces its main character, Roger (Jon Heder), a geeky New York City meter maid (meter butler?) whose life is falling apart. He gets robbed at work. His boss is unsympathetic to his problems and his coworkers ridicule him. He regularly humiliates himself in front of his gorgeous neighbor, Amanda (Jacinda Barrett). And even his volunteer work is a disaster, as his Little Brother asks to be assigned to someone else. Heder channels the inner nerd that carried Napoleon Dynamite to its stratospheric success, but the script doesn't provide enough originality or comic punch to bring his character to life. The opening 15 minutes are flat, dimensionless, and largely laugh-free.
Continue reading: School For Scoundrels Review
Linklater scored critical praise for his similarly paced School of Rock, and makes only slight alterations to the slacker-mentors-kids formula in hopes of duplicating his success. His cringeworthy Bears places former major league pitcher Morris Buttermaker (Billy Bob Thornton) in charge of a scornful army of selfish brats, then marches them through conventional hurdles on the way to a preposterous championship game.
Continue reading: Bad News Bears Review
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