*NEW* BAD SANTA 2 REVIEW *NEW*

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Was it just bad or ho-ho-ho-horrible!

Nothing on the original BUT a whole lot better than anything I could have expected.

Crude, vulgar, wrong BUT oh so funny.

Fuelled by cheap whiskey, greed and hatred, Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) teams up once again with his angry little sidekick, Marcus (Tony Cox) to knock off a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve.

From all the poor ratings I expected worse. The original was good BUT it was hardly groundbreaking comedy.

It was a breath of fresh air watching a foul mouthed SC screwing and boozing his way though life after all the corny and sickly sweet Christmas films that bombard us during the wintry period. BUT can lightning strike twice for Billy Bob?

In a nutshell, meh.

Has it really been 13 years?! Did we need another one?

From the incredibly sweary and dreary opening, it felt we never left with Willie killing his liver and vomming down an alleyway.

Thornton hasn’t changed one bit and delivered yet again. Bringing his silver tongue and miserable demeanour to the fold. He quickly summed up the 13 year gap. The only shocker being an absent Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls).

The first 20 minutes was so wrong and quite dark with Willie trying to top himself by sticking his head in an electric oven. Thankfully, a surprise visit from an old friend soon stopped him in his tracks.

Brett Kelly was hilarious as Thurman Merman. Apart from turning 21, his appearance hadn’t changed at all. He stole the show and worked really well off Thornton. His naive and bizarre outlook on life and Christmas cracked me up.

I was a little disappointed at his limited screen time. I know that Willie was trying to push Thurman away to save him from ruining his life BUT the loveable dimwit just won’t give up on the gutter mouthed grouch.

His return to the mix later on in the movie was a much needed injection to the piece when the pace (and gags) tragically lagged.

Cox and Thornton were a great dysfunctional duo once they made amends over Marcus’ backstabbing. The insults and put downs were relentless.

I couldn’t believe they got Kathy Bates in this as Willie’s mother. She gave it a good ol’ go as the pair tried to get over their fractious relationship for one big score. Welcoming the woman who brought him into the world with a punch in the face.

They weren’t a bad mother/son combination BUT we already had one foul mouthed drunk; we didn’t need another. It felt like a competition with the pair trying to out gross each other BUT there was fun to be had. One scene had me in tears. I think it was improvised because it was a lot funnier than it should have been. All I’ll say is pizza.

Mike Starr’s (Dumb and Dumber) unexpected cameo as a lecherous SC delivered a mad punch up. He managed to make Willie look like a decent human being. For a second.

The first hour actually had me in stitches. It was filthy crude humour BUT it did the job. A shame that momentum couldn’t stick. The remaining 30 minutes was a lot more strenuous and hard going.

I wasn’t really a fan of Jenny Zigrino after her cringe-inducing turn in Fifty Shades of Black and she did nothing to win me over in this either. Other than playing on her build, she didn’t bring anything to the mix and just wasn’t funny. Cox’s attempts to woo her were dull and boring.

Jeff Skowron was incredibly annoying as Dorfman. The security guard intent on foiling Willie’s plan. Bernie Mac, he ain’t. Could have done with someone like him in this.

I had actually forgotten that Octavia Spencer featured in the first one. Good to see her return in a small cameo as the washed up hooker Opal BUT some might see it as a bit of a step down after her stellar performance in The Help.

Christina Hendricks proved she was game and I wasn’t complaining watching Mad Men’s Joan Holloway getting down and dirty BUT it wasn’t really that funny.

I know it was supposed to mirror Willy missing Graham’s Sue BUT after a couple of scenes, the bonking and screaming profanities got repetitive pretty quick.

There were several scenes that were just retreads of the original and nowhere near as entertaining. The frantic finale did get a little predictable and ended on such an incredibly flat and unfunny footnote with the laughs few and far between. Shame.

However, it was still quite watchable and killed the time. Fans of the original will find some saving graces in this. Just don’t expect too much.

2.5/5

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*NEW* ZOOTOPIA REVIEW *NEW*

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A fun and clever little family flick.

In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop (Ginnifer Goodwin – Once Upon A Time) and a cynical con artist fox (Jason Bateman – Arrested Development) must work together to uncover a conspiracy.

From the people that brought you Wreck It Ralph and . . . the better seasons of The Simpsons. A star studded and wonderfully animated little affair that cleverly tackles racism and delivers a nice message that anyone can be anything. Awww . . . Yuck.

It was a clever concept how the writers made up this metropolis of mad animals. The animation and detail on the numerous regions within Zootopia was breathtaking to look at. Once we accepted the crazy spiel that animals have evolved and live in peace (NOT to mention dress up in clothes too), the film got down to business.

We followed the young and excitable Judy Hopps (voiced perfectly by Goodwin) as she defied every obstacle and perception to become the first bunny cop of Zootopia. Tackling bullies and stereotypes to achieve her dream. Unaware that her biggest challenge was yet to come.

Breaking free from the overanxious paws of her panic-stricken parents in Bunnyburrow to help change the world and make a difference. It wasn’t long before our heroine’s rose-tinted outlook was crushed by her insensitive boss, the miserable Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) refusing to take her seriously and assigning her parking duty as a meter maid.

The pace did lag in parts and the 108 minute length might have the adults fidgeting, let alone the little ‘uns. However, things picked up once Hopps crossed paths with the sly hustling fox Nick Wylde. I couldn’t think of anybody better than Bateman to take on the role.

It was fun enough watching the fractious relationship between slick Nick and the determined Judy blossom into the inevitable as they unwittingly team up to solve a missing animal case.

The case delivered enough laughs and crazy chases to keep the little ‘uns (and the bigger kids. Yeah, I’m talking to you) entertained. One of the best gags involved a number plate search at the DMV (Department of Mammal Vehicles). With Judy pressed for time, it didn’t help knowing that the whole place was . . . run . . . by . . . a . . . load . . . of . . . sloths. Brilliant.

The case wasn’t too bad with the missing creatures in question turning into feral predators without explanation. BUT as always its the journey NOT the destination.

“Haven’t you got a fox ice cream store back in your own district” – I loved how Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush subtly tackled racism within the piece; especially with Nick’s treatment. Never being trusted because of his “people”.

It was perfectly balanced against the fun chases and silly humour as Judy must address some of her own fears and assumptions, branding predators as a “minority” that should be monitored and carrying fox repellent despite telling Nick everyone should be treated the same.

I couldn’t believe the stars that popped up in this; J.K. Simmons, Bonnie Hunt, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk. Even Shakira had a cameo as political activist and media personality Gazelle.

Tommy Chong was hilarious as bohemian hippie Yax. But it was two of the lesser known actors that stole the show for me; Nate Torrence’s (She’s Out of My League) overenthusiastic Clawhauser and Jenny Slate’s (The Secret Life of Pets) bumbling Mayor’s aide Bellwether.

The metatextual references were brilliant; there was a fantastic Breaking Bad reference involving some rams dealing some illegal herbal substances and a Godfather-esque encounter with a Mafioso rodent called Mr. Big that was ripe for the pickings with gags and little nuances.

Disney have worked their magic to deliver another fun family movie but one that will rank with the greats? Not so much.

The pace was a little long and the middle act did stumble with the case solving getting repetitive and predictable. But it was still fun enough and left a nice message to never judge a book by its cover.

3.5/5