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
Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) is the son of the world's greatest heroes, super-strong Captain Stronghold (Kurt Russell) and high-flying Josie Jetstream (Kelly Preston). However, despite his impressive lineage, Will's lack of astonishing abilities poses complications on his first day at Sky High, a Hogwarts-esque floating academy for exceptionally gifted teens. Because of his embarrassing ordinariness, Will is shuttled into the "Sidekick" academic track (euphemistically referred to as "Hero Support") with his hippie best friend Layla (Danielle Panabaker) and other lamely powered misfits. Sidekicks are unpopular geeks and Heroes are the cool kids at this fantastic high school, which also features a cheerleading squad made up of clones, a mixed-lineage (hero and villain) rebel as Will's brooding arch-nemesis, and bullies acting as evil henchmen for a mysterious fiend who's plotting revenge against the Stronghold clan. This passing interest in metaphorical subtext proves tantalizing during Will's admission to his dad that he's a sidekick (a moment that recalls X-Men 2's "coming out" scene), as well as with the repeated adult refrain that Will is just a "late bloomer" (thus linking his nascent strengths with puberty). Yet content to only skim the surface of its symbolic potential, the film doggedly opts for obviousness when subtlety is called for, ultimately turning its story into simply the latest misfit-makes-good-and-proves-that-dorks-are-people-too adolescent fairy tale.
Continue reading: Sky High Review
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