Old padres, new padres, same formula.
When a mediocre comedy with star leads that pulls in respectable box office numbers is pretty much immediately green-lit for a sequel, there’s normally a few raised eyebrows. These straight-to-production sludge-fests are at best, mildly funny, at worst, truly absymal. Daddy’s Home 2 actually manages to be funnier than the 2015’s paternal battle of the low wits, but that’s not exactly high praise considering the comedic talent on offer.
Brad and Dusty (Will Ferrell & Mark Wahlberg) are happily living the co-Dad lifestyle. Their amicable partnership is soon threatened by a festive arrival; Dusty’s tough-love, sleazy father (Mel Gibson) and Brad’s gentle, overly affectionate dad (John Lithgow). They all end up taking a holiday together, which inevitably, descends into chaos.
Following the raucous, sublimely scripted The Other Guys, the combination of Ferrell and Wahlberg became something to be excited about. Daddy’s Home might not have lived up to the belly-hurting chuckles of their first collaboration, but there was enough there to save it from a slaughtering. The sequel pretty much sticks to a tried and tested formula; Gibson is tough, Lithgow is soft. Their contrasts are played off against each other constantly, as Lithgow smooches his giant man-boy and Gibson scoffs in disgust. The radicalised, opposing views on parent-hood can get some big laughs, but it’s all Lithgow. Gibson spends an obscene amount of time fake-laughing, to the point he’ll have left roduction with a wheezy voice and a Razzie award in his sights. Your views on Gibson aside, he has some incredible directing and acting talent, mastering his comedy chops in the electrifying classic What Women Want. But he channels the sort of unbearably toxic sleazebag here that his villainy isn’t comic enough to be funny. Plus his relentless dedication to masculinity overrides the film’s intended message of breaking down those barriers.
Wahlberg and Ferrell have an irresistible buddyship, some scenes arousing some strong giggles (Ferrell crying at the fact Wahlberg says they’re best friends). However the writer’s have exhausted every possible bit regarding their dislike of each other the fact the kids aren’t a biological spawn of Ferrell. Then again, that should be the purpose of the extra daddies – sadly this isn’t enough. The female cast haven’t been mentioned much in this review, as they are next to entirely neglected in favour of the macho presence, leaving the movie firmly in the past. There is an occasional charming resemblance to the warmness of some Christmas family comedies, but the lack of female focus is not part of that.
There’s some admirably funny skits; the changing of the thermostat is one of the few times in it the male leads feel truly connected and actually enjoying themselves. The climax in the the Showcase Cinema – which is totally not a sponsor of the movie – is a delightfully festive heartwarmer that makes everything seem like it was sort of worth it, featuring a reliable hilarious cameo from John Cena (yes, you can see him). But there’s some tasteless humour here, including but not limited to an entire gun plot-strand which is uncomfortably performed, a presumably satirical look at Mel Gibson’s perversion which leads him to advising a young boy to slap a young girl on the arse, and intoxicated children, of course. There’s a few moments of pathos, such as a part of Lithgow’s overwhelmingly predictable predicament, but overall it’s a comedy restrained by it’s own supremely lazy writing.
It’s a serviceable festive offering, regretfully its most memorable quality is the fact it manages to squeeze ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ and ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ into the space of one sequence.