I absolutely love Bad Santa. It was an instant classic when it was first released and made it into my annual Christmas movie rotation every year around December. I watch it a good 4-5 times in December and never grow tired of it. The "Badder" cut or the Director's cut, doesn't matter (though I prefer the Badder cut). Bad Santa represents one of the last true great dark comedies.
Bad Santa 2 is too little, too late though. The nice thing about Bad Santa was that, aside from featuring vulgar language, it didn't rely on the typical comedy tropes of the early 2000's. Bad Santa 2 uses every modern comedy trope that has been featured in every Melissa McCarthy, Seth Rogen, etc. comedy for the last 10 years. It took a troubled, deep, yet funny character and turned them into a cardboard cutout of their former selves.
Except for some of the cast, none of the original writers, producers, or director came back for this movie. Kathy Bates is absolutely wasted here. They tried to turn her character into something that she's never done before but the movie focuses too much on her. The first Bad Santa's best moments were the interactions between Willie and the Kid and Willie and Marcus, we don't get much of that here and what we do get is rather ho-hum. It also doesn't help that most of the funny scenes were shown in the first two trailers for this movie.
Christina Hendricks is the new love interest but, unlike the first movie, she isn't grounded in reality. Lauren Graham's character (Sue) in the first Bad Santa was meant to be a grounding character. She helps the audience identify with Willie as a real person instead of just a raging, mean alcoholic. That's not the case here. The audience doesn't get a grounding character at all with Bad Santa 2 except for a few moments with Willie and that just doesn't fit the character. Yes, deep down, Willie is a good guy but he starts acting in this manner half-way through the movie instead of actually learning a lesson.
I had such high hopes for this film but it took too long to come out and all of the original luster has been lost. Compared to most other modern comedies, it isn't bad. I would give it about a 6/10. I think that The Night Before is a better, modern Christmas comedy but, when compared to other modern comedies in general (like The Boss, Bad Moms, etc.), Bad Santa 2 is OK.
It's absolutely terrible when compared against the original film. I was expecting it to be worse than the first but not by this large of a margin, hence my score of 2/5. If you're a fan of the original and truly have to see this movie, just rent it and move on. Wait for this to hit $2.99 during Black Friday this year if you really want to own it.