Director: Sean Anders
Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini, Alessandra Ambrosio, John Cena with John Lithgow and Mel Gibson
Plot: As Brad (Ferrell) and Dusty (Wahlberg) learn to be co-parents, their own fathers arrive, causing a fracture in their relationship.
Daddy’s Home was a bit of a disappointment. Its problem was the fact that it felt like a first draft of a promising premise, so the end result was a predictable mess. It turned out exactly how you expected it to, but in lacking that magic spark, everything about it felt flat. It is worrying that a sequel is being churned out so quickly, suggesting that the Hollywood factory has churned out yet another script than putting too much thought into it.
The ingredients of this sequel don’t really do much to dissuade this line of thought. In the true example of bigger and better sequel-making, the writers have predictably (there’s that word again!), raised the daddy issue gag to another generation. Enter Ferrell and Wahlberg’s respective fathers, played by the kind of big names that used to surprise you when they showed on in comedies, but now this gag feels stretched. There is nothing wrong with John Lithgow and Mel Gibson as actors, far from it, but they are also in their comfort zone. I never really had a problem with Wahlberg and Ferrell in the first movie, but my complaint was based on the fact their performances weren’t anything that pushed them. Picture both Lithgow and Gibson as the oddball father figures in a Christmas comedy and that is very likely the exact thing they bring to the table. There are no surprises in store. Perhaps there is a crowd of people that like that. There is a certain charm to that John Lithgow stammering performance or Gibson scene-chewing with the appetite of a Hollywood legend. But on the other hand, as you settle into the movie and watch this oddball family unit move into a holiday cabin for the festive period, you cannot help but feel a sense of trademark family comedy coming along. The son gets a crush on the girl next door, Dusty and Gibson spend the holidays competing and Will Ferrell destroys the Christmas decorations. The opening half hour doesn’t really do anything, you didn’t guess on it doing before. But then, as if a Christmas miracle happens on-screen, Daddy’s Home 2 builds up steam. It took one movie and a bit to get going, but when the jokes hit a peak, there is a fun slide to the end of the film with non-stop hilarity. Part of this is Daddy’s Home 2 getting to a moment where all of its characters are so developed, each with conflicting cross-over relationships with one another (John Cena’s biological father to Wahlberg’s stepdaughter enters the fray to take the craziness to another level), that we start to get genuinely surprised at what happens. Daddy’s Home 2 goes from a family Christmas movie playing it safe to a movie where Will Ferrell feels compelled to buy his stepdaughter a gun as to not appear sexist. Cue a scene of awkward family time spent hunting turkeys. That leads into a nativity that gives into a punch-up. Which leads into a jaw-dropping finale in a cinema with a musical number. By the end of the movie, you have totally forgiven what came before.
Final Verdict: Daddy’s Home 2 takes time to get going, but eventually the premise delivers on its promises. Hilarious fun.