• by Wes Singleton

Bad Santa 2, C-

Rated R, 92 minutes

Billy Bob Thornton is back as the worst Santa Claus of all time in "Bad Santa 2," the sequel to the hit 2003 film "Bad Santa." Rude, crude and full of cheap, tasteless jokes, "Bad Santa 2" continues the low-brow fun that pushes the line between a hard Rated R and NC-17 rating. Unfortunately, it's also a thin, hit-or-miss excuse to bring back the cussing, liquored up Santa and making the first film seem like a total fluke.

Fueled by cheap whiskey, greed and hatred, Willie Soke (Thornton) teams up again with his angry little sidekick, Marcus (Tony Cox), to knock off a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve. Along for the ride is chubby and cheery Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly), a 250-pound ray of sunshine who brings out Willie's sliver of humanity. Mommy issues arise when the pair are joined by Willie's horror story of a mother, Sunny Soke (Kathy Bates), who raises the bar for the gang's ambitions, while somehow lowering the standards of criminal behavior.

Somehow, in 2003 the first "Bad Santa" was a mean-spirited, yet charming hit with inspired casting in Thornton. Thirteen years later, the excessively dirty "Bad Santa 2" doesn't seem as funny, mainly because of its "been there done that feel" to it, likely since it's inspired so many knockoffs and movie stars since that time (Seth Rogen, looking at you, buddy). Directed by Mark Waters ("Mr. Poppers Penguins") and written by Johnny Rosenthal and Shauna Cross, there are some obvious laugh-out moments, but many, many others that fall way too flat or just seem creepy this time around, especially with the grown-up, still-dense Thurman (the same, now-grown up actor Kelly is playing him too) who is the weakest and strangest part of the movie.

Thornton, Bates, and Cox are good for a laugh or two, spouting off crazy one-liners and bad language that'll make your head spin and most of which cannot be repeated here. The plotting is as threadbare and predictable as it comes, with the three trying to pull of a robbery of a charity in Chicago. Thornton has sex with just about any woman in sight, spare his mother, which in this day of safe sex, seems just terribly unsafe - even if the women include the hot Christina Hendricks from "Mad Men."

That's not to say there aren't laughs, there are enough to get you through a quick 90-minute running time (and the first few, in which Thornton's Willie attempts to kill himself, are the most memorable), but most of those jokes won't stick from the excessively crude, forgettable "Bad Santa 2," which makes Ebenezer Scrooge look like Willy Wonka. Definitely, and I mean definitely, this is not a Santa movie for children, or most adults for that matter.

#badsanta2 #billybobthornton #kathybates