Movie Review: “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 tolerate one another, they have a thriving relationship and have 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 Dusty’s children (Brad’s stepchildren) 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 for the days leading up to Christmas. Everything goes fine at first, but tensions begin to rise as Kurt starts to sabotage Brad and Dusty’s symbiotic relationship.
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, now they are back together again. Their movies are not 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 plays the tough guy with the hard exterior. He is definitely the classic “straight man” (meaning he is generally non-comedic, but his reactions to the comedic character become entertaining). Will Ferrell is the up-tight, sensitive, and silly character who is the victim of a lot of the film’s comedy. Both play opposite sides of the same coin, so to speak, and the film just would not work without either. They are both funny individually, sure, but they are truly hilarious when they are together and can play off one another. I like both of these characters and the actors who play them but, together, they are able to create some truly entertaining comedy. Daddy’s Home 2 is a perfect example of that.
Con: Brad’s Stepchildren (-3pts)
The first movie focuses on Brad and Dusty trying to win over Dusty’s children (Brad’s stepchildren). It was a fun premise for a film, and I was excited to see Brad and Dusty’s fathers playing into that premise. Unfortunately, I felt that Dusty’s 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 were a little overwhelmed with the addition of two more major characters and it was the main children’s storyline that suffered. These kids were the focal point of the first film and it felt unique, but unfortunately the sequel lost a little bit of what made the first film so entertaining. The way Brad and Dusty were always trying to one-up each other, was so much fun in the first film. This film went in a very different direction and it made the kids feel a bit irrelevant.
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 are perfect fits for the fathers of Brad and Dusty. Mel Gibson plays Kurt (basically an exaggerated version of Dusty), and John Lithgow plays 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, made the film feel fresh, had good chemistry with each other, and 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 in this film. This was evident by how irrelevant Dusty’s children were. My question is, if the film’s cast was so overwhelming, why were Dusty’s wife and stepdaughter even in this film? We have Dusty’s children (Brad’s stepchildren) who got little to no development due to the crowded cast, yet the filmmakers still thought it necessary to squeeze Dusty’s wife and stepdaughter in here. They are unnecessary characters that use up some screen-time which could have spent been developing the main kids (Dusty’s children). Basically, this film was crowded and it seemed to be too much for the filmmakers to handle. Dusty’s wife and stepdaughter were unnecessary and took time away from more important characters.
Pro: The Setup (+4pts)
My main concern going into this film 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 film. By setting this film during Christmas, we naturally get Brad’s father joining the group. We also get the the arrival of Kurt. He has not seen his son (or grand-kids) for a few years so has come to visit for the holidays. So far, this all felt very natural and the introductions of the fathers were funny.
The next concern was that, once the fathers were introduced, the film 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 in the overall direction of this film and 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 setup went smoothly, made sense, and was entertaining. I cannot ask for much more from a film’s setup.
Con: Anti-climactic (-6pts)
While I thought the setup to this film was strong, the climax was a bit disappointing. The film never really builds to anything. The co-dads and grand-dads go from being mad at each other to all of a sudden appreciating the whole family on Christmas. Everyone knew this would be what the film leads to. It’s a Holiday-Comedy film, they aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel here. This is all fine, because it is a holiday-comedy and everyone knew that this is where the filmmakers would go, but the problem comes when the film does not earn the change of emotions. It was like the filmmakers kept digging themselves into a hole where all the characters are mad at each other, then they thought “Oh yeah, this is a holiday movie. There needs to be a happy ending.” Then they forced a happy ending into the film without justification. By not justifying their ending, the filmmakers ended up creating an anti-climactic finish.
Grade: C+ (78pts)
This movie has quite a few problems. It has a pretty loaded cast, which is fun, but it takes focus away from the premise that made the first film so unique. This film is hardly about impressing the kids and there is not much of a one upmanship feud. The film also seems to struggle with its ending. It builds tension and chaos then tries to force resolution without any real justification. It ends up feeling out of place and anti-climactic.
Fortunatey, there was enough in this film that worked. Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell prove, 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 deliver something truly special due to their excellent chemistry. While I thought the film’s cast was a bit overwhelming for the filmmakers, John Lithgow and Mel Gibson were perfect additions for this film. They were absolutely perfect 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 are a lot of decent laughs, but there was not much that was very memorable. A couple of scenes hit me hard, such as the thermostat scene. If you have seen the movie or end up seeing the movie, comment below if you found this scene as entertaining as I did. This was not an amazing comedy but it was definitely entertaining. There is a fun cast and a bunch of entertaining moments. While it could have been a lot better, it was certainly a fun time at the movies.