Not too Bad Santa 2

bad_santa_2_poster

As a cynic, particularly around the holidays, it seems strange that I have never seen Bad Santa, but then I am not much of a fan of Billy Bob Thornton, the titular character. Thus, as I headed out to see Bad Santa 2, I had few expectations and simply held out hope that I wouldn’t be completely bored.

Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed myself while watching this seriously flawed but nonetheless funny movie.

I suspect the new edition seems very much a reprise of the original with the main characters Willie (Thornton) and Marcus (Tony Cox) getting together to pull off yet another caper; in this case, the robbery of a Chicago charity run by scheming Regent Hastings (Ryan Hansen) and his almost pure wife Diane (Christina Hendricks). Complicating matters this time is the presence of Willie’s mom Sunny (Kathy Bates), the woman who raised Willie to be the miserable, alcoholic, criminal shit that we see today.

In many ways, the movie becomes one long series of double-crosses and opportunities for Willie to do the right thing, particularly by the doting man-child Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly), but failing to live up to the moments.

badsanta2_bates

Mommy dearest Bates is guaranteed to let you down

To say that Bad Santa 2 is dark and cynical is to cope with a language that simply cannot catch the nihilism of these characters and their life choices. Thurman is the only redeeming character in this story and that is likely only because he is a clinical moron, incapable of guile and oblivious to sarcasm. As the title indicates, this is the anti-Christmas Christmas movie that would drive even Jesus Christ himself to suicide (likely some time around Easter).

And annoyingly, this is exactly why I liked this film. It was so dark and treacherous, so cynically funny, that I could not help but find the darkness endearing. This is a seasonal film for the purely jaded and given the language and adult scenes, should not be viewed with a broader family.

As no doubt in the first film, Thornton’s Willie continually finds himself let down by the people around him, feeding his suicidal neuroses. Bates is a delight as Kathy Bates under the pseudonym Sunny Soke, a woman devoid of tenderness except when it is part of a larger scheme to screw someone over. And Hendricks is the inveterate do-gooder who has her baser side, Christian charity coupled with carnal itches that need Santa’s attention.

charms

Hendricks allows her libido to cloud her better judgement

There are so many things about this story that don’t work as a story, and the ending is a complete waste of celluloid, the screenwriters Shauna Cross (who also wrote Whip It) and John Rosenthal in his debut feature film seeming to have simply typed until they ran out of toner. And yet, for all of the short-comings, you don’t really care because that is largely life. Nothing ends where it should and never satisfyingly.

If you aren’t at least intrigued by the idea of setting your nearest nativity scene ablaze or mounting Rudolph’s head on your front bumper, I am not sure you should see Bad Santa 2. But if you were not repulsed by either of those ideas, you may find some dark dark pleasure in this film.

See also:

MovieReview360 w/ Shannon Leahy (YouTube)

Same old dirty tricks (The Guardian)

Bad Santa 2 works through mommy issues (New York Times)

Movie Review: Bad Santa 2 (Danny F Santos)

Well-timed holiday spending tip

old-man-bench-retire

How would you like to give the greatest gift of all without emptying your bank account?

Introducing,

TIME

More than things. More than money. Time is our most valuable commodity.

The willingness to spend time with someone—or some many—is the greatest sign of their value to you.

Spend time listening to a loved one.

Spend time helping a stranger.

Spend time remembering those we have lost.

Spend time with yourself.

With no money down and no payments until EVER, show people how much you care by giving them your time.

snow

As an added bonus: For every time you give another, you get a time for yourself. That’s two times the time for one small investment of…you guessed it…TIME.

Holiday Dinner at the Royal York

As much as it pains many people I know, for the last four years, I have spent my Christmas dinner at a local hotel, The Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. The splendid buffet is held in the hotel’s Imperial Room, a small hall that once hosted musical legends (back in the day when you dressed up to go to a show).

For the first two years, I went with my wife Leela, whereas more recently, I have been sitting on my own (interestingly at the same table). That being said, when you’re surrounded by dozens of families, a troupe of carolers, a balloon artist and Santa Claus, are you truly alone?

The lesson I learned this year: Don’t watch people (adults as well as kids) use the chocolate fountain…you’re better off not knowing.

Dorothy’s Day

Aside from my wife and my mother, the most important woman in my life was my grandmother Dorothy, who encouraged and advised me at every turn in my life. I stayed with my grandparents while I attended college and my first apartment was literally two doors down the same apartment hallway. She has always been my friend.

Dorothy passed away last year. When she did, I was given an old family photo album and as I have this nice little scanner, I thought hmmmm.

In honour of Mother’s Day and because my grandmother’s birthday was May 15th, I offer the following retrospective album of Gram as I have known her and as I wish you all could have.

If she were still alive, I am confident she would be worried all to hell about my current artistic adventures and spirit journey, but I also know she would give me all her love and support…and maybe a few hands of cribbage to keep me honest.

I miss you, Gram.