Bad Santa 2 (Blu-ray) (2016)

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Released 24-Mar-2017

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Just Your Average Red Band Featurette
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Thurman: Then And Now
Music Video-Jingle Balls
Interviews-Cast
Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 92:10 (Case: 87)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Mark Waters
Studio
Distributor
Broad Green Pictures
Madman Entertainment
Starring Billy Bob Thornton
Tony Cox
Kathy Bates
Brett Kelly
Christina Hendricks
Ryan Hansen
Jenny Zigrino
Jeff Skowron
Cristina Rosato
Octavia Spencer
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $24.95 Music Lyle Workman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes, A lot
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Lots
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

†††† 2003ís Bad Santa was bona fide lightning in a bottle; a superior black comedy that managed to be roll-on-the-ground hilarious and even touching, not to mention it was the ideal antithesis of the usual Hollywood Christmas movie. It was a minor hit that developed a solid cult following, so now thirteen years later we finally have a sequel, albeit one with a wholly different creative team at the helm. Bad Santa 2 may not be as quirky or as clever as its predecessor, but it still delivers in the laughs department in a big bad way. Frequently side-splitting, itís a sequel which thankfully retains the uncompromisingly dark spirit of its predecessor. Nevertheless, this is the type of motion picture which will divide viewers depending on their expectations, especially since the world has grown more politically-correct and averse to this brand of dark comedy.

†††† Picking up over a decade after the original movie, Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) still hasnít made anything of his life. A depressed, raging alcoholic, Willie is left only working menial jobs, none of which he can actually hang onto for very long, and his only friend is the staggeringly naÔve, goofy Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly). But Willie is thrown a lifeline when heís contacted by his old partner Marcus (Tony Cox) with a proposition. Marcus plans to rob a Chicago-based charity to the tune of $2 million, and needs Willieís deft safecracking touch to get the job done. The money is too tempting for Willie to pass up, though he becomes even more reluctant to go through with the job after being confronted with his unsavoury mother Sunny (Kathy Bates), whoís also in on the heist. Itís a precarious trio, as Willie finds it impossible to trust his associates, and he gets easily distracted by the charityís attractive co-founder, Diana (Christina Hendricks).

†††† The ending of the original Bad Santa did not leave many logical directions for a sequel to take. Indeed, Thornton stated that finding the right story was one of the reasons why it took so long for Bad Santa 2 to come to fruition (talks started as early as 2010). The plot is admittedly on the contrived side, but it works well enough to reunite the characters and provide an excuse for a barrage of gags and one-liners. A number of recent comedy sequels have suffered from overly dense plotting, making the more simplistic narrative of Bad Santa 2 rather refreshing - and itís agreeably brisk at 90 minutes. The screenplay (credited to newcomers Johnny Rosenthal and Shauna Cross) runs with the same shtick which characterised the first movie. Thus, some might say that itís more of the same, but what else would you want from Bad Santa 2? Although not especially witty, there are more hits than misses in the laughs department here. The movie goes for broke; itís offensive, crude and vulgar, and almost every line is peppered with profanity. Luckily, the movie doesnít take the easy way out with a copout ending; rather, the conclusion is reminiscent of the original movie in terms of tone. Donít expect to see everybody hugging each other or learning about the real meaning of Christmas.

†††† Steering the ship this time is director Mark Waters (Mean Girls), who acquits himself with the material quite admirably, displaying a firm grasp of comedic timing and always maintaining a rapid-fire pace. Not to mention the whole enterprise is, of course, backed by an array of seasonal songs. Bad Santa 2 is an excessively dark movie, even mean-spirited at times, which will prove to be polarising, and not all of the tonal changes are negotiated successfully. Produced for an understandably scant $26 million, the movie unfortunately carries the look of a Netflix production or a direct-to-video flick, rather than a big screen feature film. Whereas the original Bad Santa was shot on 35mm film stock and carried some honest-to-goodness cinematic style, this follow-up was lensed digitally, and looks exceedingly basic from a visual standpoint. (Letís not forget that the Coen Brothers were executive producers on the first movie.) On top of this, thereís a fair bit of obvious, egregious product placement throughout.

†††† Despite looking a bit gaunt and frail, Thornton slips back into the role of Willie as if no time has passed. This is one of the characters that Thornton was born to play, and heís fearless in his delivery of the profane material, reaching to offend as many people as possible. Also returning is Cox whoís equally enthusiastic, while Kelly is all grown up as Thurman Merman. But Bates is the movieís secret weapon, and she absolutely goes for broke playing such a foul-mouthed character. As Willieís mother, itís clear the apple didnít fall far from the tree - Bates is always seen drinking, smoking, swearing, and even exclaims, ďI donít speak politically correct!Ē Also new to the cast is Hendricks, whose interactions with Thornton are a frequent source of amusement.

†††† At the end of the day, I simply cannot deny that Bad Santa 2 worked for me, because it did. I laughed until I cried. Itís a rapid-fire succession of vulgar one-liners, swearing, colourful insults, and trashy sex scenes, and itís laudable that the filmmakers had the guts to create something so flagrantly offensive. Plus, for all of its base sensibilities, there are some scenes here that attempt to tug at the heartstrings and continue Willieís redemptive arc established in the original movie. The fact that Bad Santa 2 is actually funny is a big deal, especially after the tedious Zoolander 2 and the studiously mediocre Anchorman 2. Everybody else can watch Itís a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street on Christmas Eve - Iíll be over here doing a Bad Santa double feature with a bottle of bourbon.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† According to IMDb, Bad Santa 2 was shot digitally with Panasonic VariCam 35 rigs, and this Blu-ray was presumably sourced directly from the digital intermediate. Quite unusually for a modestly-budgeted comedy like this, it was both captured and completed at 4K resolution, which is all the more surprising given that even major blockbusters are normally only mastered at 2K. Also quite unusual is the fact that the movie was released on 4K Blu-ray in America, though itís only available as a Best Buy Exclusive and international customers will be left paying exorbitant prices on eBay if they wish to obtain a copy. By all accounts, the 4K Blu-ray video presentation is of a high quality, even though no HDR grading was conducted for the release, and itís at least heartening to see more native 4K productions being released on the UHD Blu-ray format.

†††† Madman have not yet tried their hand at 4K Blu-ray, and therefore only offer Bad Santa 2 on standard Blu-ray in regular old 1080p. Framed at 1.85:1, the presentation is good for the most part, sometimes great, but it doesnít reach demo material and itís no match for the 4K Blu-ray. In line with most digital movies, there is a certain smoothness to the image, lacking a definitive pop of fine detail, and some shots do look smeary as well. In addition, the image does look a tad on the dull side at times, with blacks that arenít deep enough and colours which are bold but lacking in vibrancy. See, for instance, the outdoor sequences involving Willie, Sunny and Marcus collecting money for the charity - colours are drab, and looked more vibrant in both the trailers and the cinema.

†††† These issues aside, though, Bad Santa 2 still scrubs up well on Blu-ray. Close-ups fare best of course, bringing out textures on clothing as well as facial details. Source-related noise does creep in during lower-light scenes, but it isnít severe or distracting, and actually serves to accentuate the texture of the image, to make it look less smeary. Luckily, the transfer is free of encoding anomalies - I did not detect any aliasing, macroblocking or banding, and though there are some dark shots, thereís no unsightly black crush. This is a fine effort from Madman all things considered, with only minor shortcomings that shouldnít be overly bothersome to most, but a 4K release is still sorely missed.

†††† Contrary to most Madman releases, English subtitles are available. Despite an unusual font and large size, the subtitles are easy to read.

†††† Note: The back cover lists the runtime at 87 minutes, which would suggest a cut/censored edition. Happily, the actual runtime is 92 minutes and as far as I can tell no cuts were made for this home video release.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

†††† Nobody is going to load in Bad Santa 2 on Blu-ray expecting demo material from an audio perspective, as this is a comedy mostly involving dialogue. Therefore, the primary DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is more than sufficient, though audiofiles may be disappointed by the lack of an Atmos track even though it was only mixed in 5.1. Madman also provides a secondary mix on the disc: an uncompressed Linear PCM 2.0 track which provides the same experience without any surround channel use and with less dynamic range. Whichever track you prefer is entirely up to you and is dependent on your setup.

†††† Much like the video presentation, the lossless 5.1 track is fine but unspectacular, though itís in very much line with what I recall experiencing on the big screen during the movieís theatrical run. Dialogue is consistently well-prioritised, coming through the front channels with precision and superb clarity, never becoming drowned out by other noises. Surround channel usage is mostly reserved for city ambience and music, though itís all quite subtle and gentle. There isnít much impact or subwoofer activity when Willie attacks a paedophile Santa - in fact such noises are quite hollow - but gunshots are sharp and impactful. Fortunately, I detected no dropouts or any other encoding issues. This track doesnít do any more or less than what is expected of it.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

†††† A small selection of extras. The lack of a commentary track is criminal, though given the movie's poor box office I'm amazed there's anything on here at all.

Just Your Average Red Band Featurette (HD; 1:58)

†††† In this EPK-style promotional piece for the movie, cast and crew talk about the story as well as the filming process. Itís particularly amusing to see behind-the-scenes clips and outtakes from the many sex scenes.

Thurman: Then And Now (HD; 2:25)

†††† Another EPK piece, the cast and crew discuss Brett Kellyís Thurman Merman, while Kelly himself talks about doing the first movie as an eight-year-old boy. This was clearly made as a promotional segment for television, as all of the swearing is inexplicably bleeped out.

Jingle Balls (HD; 00:33)

†††† In this rather amusing extra, the song ďJingle BellsĒ is played to clips of the film...and said clips mostly involve swear words, sex scenes and other moments. I laughed.

Interview with Billy Bob Thornton (HD; 3:45)

†††† As is fairly standard for Madman releases, here we have a brief interview with Thornton thatís ripped straight from the movieís electronic press kit. He answers a few standard questions, but doesnít provide much genuine insight into the production.

Interview with Christina Hendricks (HD; 2:32)

†††† Another raw interview direct from the movieís electronic press kit, this is another unsubstantial snippet which never delves below the surface. Of limited interest.

Interview with Tony Cox & Brett Kelly (HD; 3:45)

†††† Same kind of thing. The two actors talk about their characters and their co-stars. Despite being a two-person interview, only a single camera is used which drifts between the actors quite awkwardly. Again, of limited interest.

Interview with Kathy Bates (HD; 4:08)

†††† The longest interview by a slight margin, Bates talks about the movie, her role, and the shoot. Again, there isnít much insight into the production, nor are there any amusing anecdotes about being on set.

Teaser (HD; 00:35)

†††† The very short teaser trailer.

Green Band Trailer (HD; 1:43)

†††† Seeing a green band trailer for this movie is downright odd.

Red Band Trailer (HD; 1:56)

†††† Yep, this is more like it. This is the trailer I remember seeing that got me pumped for the flick.

Green Bans ĎPayoffí Trailer (HD; 2:07)

†††† Whoever cut this trailer together did well by finding two minutes of green band footage with softer language.

Red Band ĎPayoffí Trailer (HD; 2:03)

†††† More red band mayhem. I do appreciate the inclusion of these trailers, for posterity.

Madman Propaganda (HD; 10:59)

†††† The usual reel of advertisement, though at least Madman are honest by calling it propaganda. Included here is the played-to-death anti-piracy ad and trailers for Hell or High Water, A Perfect Day, Sleeping With Other People, Life Of Crime, and Mississippi Grind.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† The American Region A-locked Blu-ray release comes with additional bonus features not available on this local disc, including:

†††† That's a fair bit of missing content. And here's what the Region A release misses out on:

†††† Considering the limited interest of the interview material, I'm giving the win to the Region A edition. And if you can get your mitts on the 4K edition, that's even better.

Summary

†††† I realise I'm very much in the minority, but I adored Bad Santa 2. It's my kind of movie. It made me laugh riotously in the cinema, and I still laughed out loud whilst watching this raunchy Christmas comedy on Blu-ray. Most will view their more traditional holiday films during the festive season, but I plan to have a Bad Santa double feature every Christmas.

†††† Madman's Blu-ray is fine, but it doesn't excel in any department. Video and audio are solid but unspectacular, while extras are underwhelming. This disc comes recommended, but I definitely suggest you try before you buy.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Friday, March 24, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSamsung UBD-K8500 4K HDR Blu-Ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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