Gross-out comedies have a bad reputation. Deservedly so. Making audiences laugh with toilet humour or ‘un-PC’ slurs requires little intelligence or creativity; comedies of this calibre tend to be pitched at about the same level as a pre-schooler repeatedly yelling the dirty word they just learned.
Bad Santa 2 has been widely received as precisely that kind of comedy. Rotten Tomatoes – where it sits at an ignominious 23% – characterises it as “[l]oaded up with the same scatological and misanthropic humo[u]r as its predecessor”. Though the sequel is full of decidedly off-colour remarks and an abundance of crude sex scenes (though, I should note, nothing particularly “scatological”), I found myself – perhaps because of low expectations – disagreeing with the consensus.
Despite its reception, and unlike that imaginary pre-schooler, Bad Santa 2 isn’t impressed by its own naughtiness. Its vulgarity is merely the reality within it exists. It earned plenty of laughs (okay, chuckles) from me through repartee and wordplay rather than exploiting its own grossness, and while it’s too predictable – and marred by Tony Cox’s barely-there performance – to be anything better than ‘pretty good’, it’s not the disaster its detractors have made it out to be. Also – Kathy Bates! Ho, ho, ho.