"Bad Santa" movies are for people who hate sappy Christmas movies. They're also for people who secretly like sappy Christmas movies but like to make fun of others who do anyway.
But most of all, they are movies for people who have no problem laughing at things most might consider revolting or disturbing.
The 2003 comedy was an out-of-nowhere delight that graduated to anti-holiday classic status. It's too much to expect for the sequel to recapture all of the demented magic of the first film, and if the sequel fails to do so, it's not for lack of going all out in an effort to gleefully offend all comers.
The additional weathering of age of the last 13 years has made Billy Bob Thornton an even better fit for the title role, the epitome of a dirty old man. An entitled, self-loathing drunken loser, he wears his bitterness like a badge of honor.
Despite his gruff exterior -- and interior -- the miserable fool has a reluctant soft spot for Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly), an abandoned child who latched onto him in the first film. Now he's 21 and still as dopily innocent as he was as an 8-year-old.
Thurman floats in and out of the movie as a flittering remnant of whatever conscience Bad Santa has left. Thurman is the one man-child he would never exploit, but that doesn't stop him from victimizing him with continual insults and jokes at his expense.
Bad Santa is hardly the worst person in the movie. His estranged con artist mother (Kathy Bates) makes him look like an angel by comparison, and his ex-con frenemy dwarf Marcus (Tony Cox) is his equally cranky partner in crime. Even the seemingly sweet charity worker Diane (Christina Hendricks) has a dark side Bad Santa is all too willing to explore.
The crux of the plot has Bad Santa donning the ill-fitting jolly old elf garb to work with Marcus and his mother on a heist to swipe the money that the charity owners plan on keeping for themselves rather than distributing to the poor.
The story is little more than a machination for Bad Santa and his gang of rogues to mess with one another with a series of sex, puke and bodily function jokes, all delivered with expert aplomb for maximum effect.
If you've made it this far in the review, you will probably enjoy much of what the movie has to offer, in spite of yourself. "Bad Santa 2" delivers exactly the sort of lump of coal in the stocking movie fans were hoping for, leaving a trail of broken beer bottles and a shattered sense of dignity in its wake.
Rating: 3 stars out of 4.