In what's sure to be an already tense holiday season - is anyone really looking forward to those family dinner conversations? - we could use some distraction. Enter another weird sequel you didn't really know you wanted: "Bad Santa 2," which doubles down on the mean-spirited humor.

In what's sure to be an already tense holiday season - is anyone really looking forward to those family dinner conversations? - we could use some distraction.

Enter another weird sequel you didn't really know you wanted: "Bad Santa 2," which doubles down on the mean-spirited humor.

The original 2003 "Bad Santa" was a tale of unrepentantly miserable alcoholic conman Willie (Billy Bob Thornton), who engaged in a lot of decidedly un-Santa-like behavior. It was dark, sure, but it also had a surprising warmth and redemption. And, if you'll recall, a happy ending.

"Bad Santa 2" starts off by negating that ending, showing us a modern-day Willie who has slipped back into his old ways of boozing, leering at women and generally screwing up his life at any given turn.

He's on the verge of suicide (literally, he's hanging by the neck) when the now-grown kid from the first movie (Brett Kelly) comes in with a package full of money. It's an eventual invitation to reconnect with his former partner Marcus (Tony Cox) for one last scheme.

Willie and Marcus head to Chicago where they enlist as bell-ringers for a large charity. Of course, they're planning to rob the charity, and they get some help from an old face in Willie's life (Kathy Bates).

Obviously 13 years have passed, and this is going to be a different "Bad Santa." Two of the standout actors from the original have died (Bernie Mac and John Ritter). The charms of Lauren Graham are sorely missing, as her character is left out as a sign of Willie's downfall.

But there's also a different creative team here. Original "Bad Santa" writers Glenn Ficarra and

John Requa are out, and so is director Terry Zwigoff, replaced at the helm with Mark Waters ("Mean Girls").

The new team lets loose with the shocking and mean-spirited humor - although, let's be honest, hearing a vulgar, mean man lashing out doesn't feel like a break from reality at the moment.

Thornton reprises his character effectively, though he has to try to fill in the emotional gaps where the story lacks them. And his father-figure role with a 21-year-old doesn't tug at the same heartstrings, although Kelly is pretty great in a grown role that reflects his younger character perfectly.

This sequel isn't afraid to go low - a closing credits gag wins for cheapest laugh of the year - but the original also went high. We deserved better.