2016 Certificate: 15

Synopsis

'Tis the season to be jolly offended once more as Billy Bob Thornton makes his return as the world's favourite Christmas killjoy: degenerate safe-cracker Willie Soke. After serving 10 years for their last festive felony, Willie's devious little helper Marcus (Tony Cox) is out of jail and ready to pull off their next job: a big charity robbery in Chicago. But if you thought these two lacked scruples, they're virtual angels next to their latest accomplice - Willie's long-lost but sadly not forgotten mum (Kathy Bates). Mean Girls director Mark Waters takes the reins of a sequel that delivers enough profanity, debauchery, and un-PC misanthropy to put everyone involved on the naughty list for life.

Director

  • Mark Waters

Cast

  • Billy Bob Thornton

  • Kathy Bates

  • Tony Cox

  • Christina Hendricks

  • Brett Kelly

  • Jenny Zigrino

  • Cristina Rosato

Review

Thirteen years after peeing on everyone's Christmas parade, Billy Bob is back as misanthropic reprobate Willie Soke, the former department store Santa to whom "ho ho ho" is less an indication of good cheer than a three-for-one deal in Vegas's red-light district.

So after all this time, it's no surprise to find that Willie is still at rock bottom - an antisocial, unemployable, and terminally miserable drunk. Lives don't get much lower. Until they put their head in the oven... and discover it's electric.

His only friend is Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly), the chubby cherub from the first movie who is now, incredibly, 21. Less incredibly, he's still a virgin - a situation Willie, in a rare show of benevolence, helps to remedy.

However, things start to look up - or still down, depending on your perspective - when Willie's erstwhile elfin accomplice Marcus (Cox) pops up after a decade in the joint with another crooked proposition - to rip off a big-money charity in Chicago.

But not only does that mean another stint in a Santa suit, it also means burying the hatchet with the dirty little double-crosser - and his latest criminal associate: Willie's no-good, career criminal mother Sunny (Bates).

The mystery of where Willie gets it from is duly solved. Still, as a consummate pro (or at least a pro who loves to consummate), Willie manfully takes on the job of buttering up the charity's sex-starved founder (Christina Hendricks) and an equally coquettish security guard (Jenny Zigrino).

Following the original's gleefully cynical lead but adding little to the characters, director Mark Waters and his co-writers simply offer more of the same - a torrent of puerile banter, outrageous behaviour and political incorrectness that jiggles the naughty end of the funny bone but never genuinely shocks.

The shtick becomes a little samey but there are enough pearls of idiocy and head-in-the-oven moments to keep you in the perversely festive spirit.

And although it never gives in to sentiment, it does have a happy ending. Of sorts. Ho ho ho.

Elliott Noble