Daddy’s Home 2 is a sequel to Daddy’s Home, starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. The Other Guys co-stars have great chemistry and have turned their star power into a double team to rival Dennis Rodman and Jean-Claude Van Damme. The first film was a mixed bag, relying quite heavily on the Ferrell–Wahlberg dynamic and a simple premise. Bad Neighbours starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron pivoted on a similar rivalry between newlyweds and a frat house. The cartoon versus showdown took the etiquette of good neighbourliness and turned it into a debauched game of one-upmanship. Daddy’s Home went for a paternal joust instead, pitting a tough biological father against a much more sensitive stepfather as the competition turned into a high stakes game for their family’s approval.
The first film struggled to land gags and the comedy was hit-and-miss when you consider the collective credits of the co-stars. The screenplay was sub-standard, starting with a full-blown product placement for a car built into the dialogue and generally not playing to their strengths. Will Ferrell is good at going completely over-the-top and this meek and mild character makes it quite fun to see the trajectory. Mark Wahlberg is approachable, the kind of guy you could imagine going for a beer with, but he also has edge as witnessed in The Departed and similar tough guy roles.
They worked really well in The Other Guys, which had one of the best first halves of a comedy in recent memory. After a great start, it proceeded to nosedive to a forced conclusion with the help of Steve Coogan as the bad guy. This contrived and substandard second half is pretty much where we found ourselves in Daddy’s Home. You just keep waiting and watching in the hope that they are going to ignite their former glory despite the second-rate material.
All of this is to say that no one was really demanding a sequel. However, in this day and age, decent box office figures are enough to revive a dead horse or a subpar comedy like Daddy’s Home. The good news is that Daddy’s Home 2 has had a complete refresh, taking it to the next level by incorporating not only the daddy’s, but their daddy’s. Expanding the ensemble has led to the inclusion of Mel Gibson and John Lithgow, fantastic actors in their own right. A welcome decision, Daddy’s Home 2 essentially super sizes the comedic scenarios, by allowing a whole new dimension of daddy issues to proliferate the comedy. Taking a page from Adam Sandler’s playbook, they’ve kept things lightweight, silly and completely ridiculous – pandering to dumb laughs with heartwarming family drama as a secondary objective.
“DADDY-O… your father’s beautiful.”
Following the events of Daddy’s Home, the two men have moved past their petty squabbles and turned their relationship into a fully-fledged bromance. A peaceful family life and good vibes are quickly trashed upon the arrival of their fathers for a Christmas get-together. Enforcing their divergent namby-pamby and tough as nails agendas, things quickly spiral out of control as one grandfather’s style dwarfs the other’s. The paternal wages of war are funny from a brash no-nonsense Gibson trying to inspire his son to grow some balls while Lithgow pushes his soft and fuzzy nature, plenty of over sharing and questionable father–son affection.
The supporting cast move to the back of the group photograph in this sequel as it becomes more of a four ball affair. Gibson and Lithgow add a fresh dimension to the simple rivalry tale taking the pressure off Ferrell and Wahlberg to be funny. While it verges on going completely over-the-top at several intervals, it prides itself on dumb fun roping in several incidents that almost derail the comedy. Managing to harness the reindeer with Christmas lights, they eventually land the sequel with some good ole Yuletide spirit. After a number of cringe-worthy comedy set pieces that get by on good pacing and a fun loving attitude, which sees them priming a possible third installation, it wraps up with a big red ribbon.
Daddy’s Home 2 is a forgettable, brash, silly and dumb comedy. While mostly family-friendly, it aims for low-hanging fruit, but makes an improvement on the original and largely redeems a fairly flat-footed franchise. After a very serious 2017, this throwaway entertainment couldn’t have come at a better time, charging gleefully into the fray with reckless abandon, tipping the hat to some of Ferrell’s most ridiculous work and powering home with good cast chemistry and some heavyweight star power. It probably won’t sit well with you if these sort of family dynamics cause stress, but for everyone that can take it with a cup of salt, it may be a guilty pleasure worth revisiting.
The bottom line: Enjoyable