Writing Movie “WRONGS”
By Jim West
Bad Santa 2
Directed by Mark Waters
Written by Doug Ellin, Shauna Cross, Johnny Rosenthal, John Phillips
Edmund Kean’s famous quote, “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” Is true today as it was in his day. With four writers on this project from hit shows like Entourage to raunchy comedies like Dirty Grandpa, you would think this one would be a sure fire laugh riot. Well it unfortunately isn’t. All jokes aside, this films feels like it had a identity crisis. Torn between being a hard R comedy to a family drama. Trying to do too much in 92 minutes is this film’s biggest downfall.
The plot is your typical one last heist job setup. Of course you expect the double and triple cross. Of course we know with a Bad Santa movie we are going to get raunchy and gross out scenes. Yet every scene seemed to play it safe. As if all four writers just sat around each other laughing at their own jokes and not considering what they can do to keep elevating the hijinks. Now Bill Bob Thornton is a delight. He just doesn’t seems to have the bite his character did in the first Bad Santa. Even the introduction scene where we catch up with his character since the last film is trite and boring.
So how can we take a film written by four writers with their own past successes under their belts, and take it from a bad Bad Santa to a jolly great Bad Santa film? Spoilers are a coming.
First off keep playing the mom and son bit, but do NOT change the dynamic. Keep them all cut throat at all times. That is where the best laughs are at. Think of the show ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. That is what they get right episode after episode is that they are always screwing each other over. Maybe next time bring in one of their writer’s to your team to spruce up the screenplay. The security guard bit at the charity could have been far more hilarious. Showcase his character more going way beyond the call of duty of a charity rent a cop. I would write a whole sequence of him in full black ops gear tracking down Billy Bob’s character all night and documenting the details. Then he forgets to switch off his body cam and mic. It captures him in some embarrassing situations during the night that get live streamed to the internet. Take the scene with Bill Bob and Christina Hendricks characters having sex in the back alley and elevate it more than with words of dialogue spoken. Have her react to something in the environment like a rat for example and Billy Bob is too drunk to tell if she is having fun or wants it to be rougher. As for the triple cross climax, I would have scraped that in favor of something for straightforward. His mom was coughing all movie long. Now the writers most likely added that in for Billy Bob’s character to feel pity for her, but I say screw that. Let Billy Bob confirm she is really sick and he tries to get her assisted suicide services. THAT could be played up for huge laughs considering at the beginning of the film he tried to commit suicide himself unsuccessfully. To wrap up, this film could have easily been written differently, but again dying is easy. Comedy is hard.
Thanks for reading Writing Movie ‘WRONGS’.