Movie Review: “Daddy’s Home 2”
Daddy’s Home 2
Brad (Will Ferrell) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) have a found a way to co-exist as father and stepfather. Not only do they now tolerate one another, but they also have a thriving relationship and have even become good friends. Everything is going well and the holidays are approaching. With Brad’s father, Don (John Lithgow), already joining them for the holidays, Dusty discovers that his father will also be coming. Brad is overjoyed with this news, but Dusty explains that his father Kurt (Mel Gibson) will make fun of them the entire time.
Brad and Dusty go to the airport to pick up their fathers, and things immediately get off to a rocky start. Kurt is absolutely shocked by the level of intimacy between Don and Brad. More importantly, he does not like the lack of masculinity around his grandchildren. When the children say that they hate Christmas, because they have to split their day between Brad and Dusty, the co-dads decide to have one Christmas with everyone together. Everyone is happy with this idea, and thinks it is a scenario in which everybody wins. Kurt, however, is eager to prove that Dusty does not truly get along with Brad, so he decides to rent a house so that both families can live under one roof during the days leading up to Christmas. Everything goes fine at first, but tensions quickly begin to rise as Kurt starts to sabotage Brad and Dusty’s relationship, proving it was more fragile than anyone anticipated.
The Pros & Cons
Will Ferrell & Mark Wahlberg (+6pts)
Brad’s Stepchildren (-3pts)
John Lithgow & Mel Gibson (+5pts)
Dusty’s Stepdaughter (-3pts)
The Setup (+4pts)
Pro: Will Ferrell & Mark Wahlberg (+6pts)
They were amazing in The Other Guys, they were great in Daddy’s Home, and now they were back together again for Daddy's Home 2. Their movies have not been perfect, but Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell have fantastic chemistry together. They have a fun dynamic and both play off each other’s comedic timing very well. Mark Wahlberg played the tough guy with the hard exterior. He is definitely the classic “straight man”, with him being mostly non-comedic, except for his reactions to the comedic character. Will Ferrell was the up-tight, sensitive, and silly character who was the subject of a lot of the movie's comedy. I liked both of these characters and am a fan of the actors who played them, and together, they were able to create some truly entertaining comedy.
Con: Brad’s Stepchildren (-3pts)
The first movie focused on Brad and Dusty trying to win over Dusty’s children. It was a fun premise for the first movie, and I was excited to see Brad and Dusty’s fathers playing into that premise. Unfortunately, I felt that the kids got very little focus this time around. The focus was mainly on Brad, Dusty, Don, and Kurt. It was a decent and entertaining movie, but I felt the filmmakers bit off a little more than they could chew with the addition of two more major characters.
The dads were the main characters of this story, but the objective got a little confusing. Brad and Dusty were just split in too many different directions, as opposed to the first movie, which had the simple objective of each dad trying to win the kids over. For this movie, one direction was trying to deal with their fathers being in town and stepping on their toes as parents. Another direction was Brad and Dusty's relationship with each other. Another direction was dealing with Kurt's destructive behavior, and another direction was the same competitive goal of each dad trying to win the kids over. I agree that the filmmakers needed to add something new to this story, to make it a little more complicated than the first movie, but I thought they made it a little too complicated. The result was that the kids (who should have been the primary objective) felt like an after thought.
Pro: John Lithgow & Mel Gibson (+5pts)
While I was not a huge fan of the direction the filmmakers went in with this plot, I really enjoyed the additions of John Lithgow and Mel Gibson. They were perfect fits for the fathers of Brad and Dusty. Mel Gibson played Kurt (basically an exaggerated version of Dusty), and John Lithgow played Don (basically an exaggerated version of Brad). These two characters were very exaggerated versions of their sons and it created a very unpredictable dynamic throughout the film. With all four of these characters together, it was hard to anticipate what was going to happen next. They were funny, they made the film feel fresh, they had good chemistry with each other, and they great chemistry with their sons. They were both perfect choices for these characters on paper, and it ended up working really well on screen.
Con: Dusty’s Stepdaughter (-3pts)
This movie was pretty crowded. With the addition of two new major characters (Don and Kurt) the filmmakers clearly struggled with focus when writing this story. This was evident by how irrelevant Dusty’s children were. If the film’s cast was so overwhelming, why were Dusty’s wife and stepdaughter even in this movie at all? We had Dusty’s children who got little to no development due to the already crowded cast, yet the filmmakers still thought it necessary to squeeze Dusty’s wife and stepdaughter in here as well. They were unnecessary characters that used up some screen-time that could have spent on more important characters (like maybe Dusty's kids, who were the whole point of these two movies).
Pro: The Setup (+4pts)
My main concern going into this movie was that, with the addition of two new major characters, the filmmakers would get lazy with the writing and that the premise of the grandfathers would feel like nothing more than a forced gimmick. I am glad to say that this was not the impression I got after seeing the movie. By setting this film during Christmas, we naturally got Brad’s father joining the group. We also got the the arrival of Kurt, who had not seen his son (or grand-kids) for a few years, so trying to reconnect with his family during the holidays made sense. So far, this all felt very natural and the introductions of the fathers were funny.
My next concern was that, once the fathers were introduced, the filmmakers would struggle to create conflict between these four characters in a natural way. Again, I was glad to see that this was not the case. They made Kurt the saboteur (so to speak) and it was definitely in line with this character. I was not a fan of the overall direction that this story went in, nor was I a fan of the lack of focus that the children got (who should have been what the co-dads and grand-dads were fighting over), but I thought the filmmakers set everything up in a way that made sense, and was entertaining, and you cannot ask for much more from a movie's setup.
Con: Anti-climactic (-6pts)
While I thought the setup to this film was strong, the climax was a bit disappointing. I do not want to spoil it, even though I found it to be severely predictable, but I just thought the ending was unjustified. It was as if the filmmakers got caught up with creating tension, and they spent a lot of the movie digging themselves into that hole, then they suddenly remembered how they wanted to end the movie, so forced that ending without any real justification for it. It all just flipped a little too suddenly, and it felt like the filmmakers had no real plan for the story they were trying to tell. Had they had this ending in sight earlier on, they could have built toward that ending in a natural way, but that was not what happened here.
Grade: C+ (78pts)
This movie had quite a few problems. It had a pretty loaded cast, which was fun, but it took focus away from the premise that made the first movie work so well. This movie was hardly about impressing the kids and there was not much of a one competitive feud to win them over. The filmmakers also seemed to struggle with their ending, as they built tension and chaos then tried to force a resolution without any real justification for it. Fortunately, this movie was definitely not all bad.
Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell proved, once again, how great they are as a comedic duo. Both of these guys, individually, have great comedic personalities and great comedic timing, but together they are able to deliver really effective comedy, and this movie was just another example of that. Then there were John Lithgow and Mel Gibson who were absolutely perfect choices to play the fathers of Brad and Dusty, and they were a lot of fun to watch. This film was okay. It definitely was not bad, but it could have been a lot better. There were a lot of decent laughs, so it was entertaining enough while it was on, but it was not very memorable.