Well, it’s going to be dirty, that much is for sure.

Here’s one of those films I genuinely thought would never happen, no matter how many times they announced it. The original Bad Santa, directed by Terry Zwigoff, was manhandled so much during post-production and even after release that it’s one of those accidental hits. It wasn’t released by Miramax as much as it was abandoned to its fate.

But one of the greatest things about the way films are digested by culture is that home video gives movies a long tail, and people can discover films over time, and word of mouth is still, at the end of the day, the single greatest weapon a film has. Bad Santa was a film that people passed along when they discovered it, and it’s a film that people tended to rewatch repeatedly as they shared it with other people. Miramax put several different cuts out on home video. One, a “Badder Santa” version, had nothing to do with Terry Zwigoff, while there is a “Director’s Cut” that is over ten minutes shorter that really was an alternate take by Zwigoff. There’s also simply an unrated cut to really confuse the issue.

One of the benefits of taking thirteen years to make a sequel is that they’ve given Brett Kelly time to grow up. He was Thurman Merman, aka The Kid, in the original, and he was a big part of the success of the film. Visually striking and genuine, Kelly gave a performance that grounded the outrageous stuff Billy Bob Thornton and Tony Cox were doing. Now he’s an adult, and that’s a big part of the story this time, it looks like. I’m intrigued by the addition of Kathy Bates as Thornton’s mother because Bates is one of those actors who will commit to something and then seriously ride or die based on those choices. It really comes down to how good the script is, and here’s where I have no idea what to expect. The original was by Glenn Ficarra & John Requa, and it’s a terrific script. Those guys are adept at juggling a lot of different tones and ideas, and they knew how to make Willie a true creep without pulling any punches, but in a context that somehow made it palatable. This new one is written by John Phillips, whose one produced credit so far is Dirty Grandpa, along with Shauna Cross (whose Whip It was a nice piece of work), Doug Entourage Ellin, and a new guy named Jonny Rosenthal. I have no idea how all of those voices are going to come together with Mark Waters directing, and it makes me nervous.

Fingers crossed. I have a real soft spot for the first film, and I’d like to see these characters with over a decade of hard living under their belts. That sounds like ripe ground for some great character work. I’m rooting for this team to get it right. Looking at the trailer, you tell me… how’s it looking?

Bad Santa 2 is in theaters November 23, 2016.

A respected critic and commentator for fifteen years, Drew McWeeny helped create the online film community as "Moriarty" at Ain't It Cool News, and now proudly leads two budding Film Nerds in their ongoing movie education.