Daddy's Home 2
Updated: Feb 5
Will Ferrell became a movie star in large part due to the comic persona he portrayed in movies like 2004’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy or 2006’s Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. His characters were arrogant, dumb and had very high opinions of their place in the world. But they were also lovable. After several films, that persona started to become tired. So he added a new character to his repertoire. This guy has little self-confidence and is very nice, but also dumb. These films usually involve him going to extreme lengths to get people to appreciate him. Both personas have brought Farrell success and it is the second one that he uses in his latest film, Daddy’s Home 2 (93 minutes minus the end credits, though there is a short scene after the credits).
In the first Daddy’s Home (2015), viewers met Brad (Ferrell), his wife, Sara (Linda Cardellini, most recently seen on the Netflix drama series Bloodline), and her two children from her first marriage, Dylan (Owen Vaccaro) and Megan (Scarlett Estevez, a regular on the Fox series Lucifer). Brad is trying his hardest to ingratiate himself to his step-kids when their Dad, the macho Dusty (Mark Wahlberg, a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee in 2007 for The Departed), comes to visit. There was a lot of alpha male posturing and Ferrell getting hurt and most of it was not funny (the best thing about the first film was the supporting turn by comedian Hannibal Buress as a handyman who inexplicably moved in with the family. Unfortunately, he is not back for the sequel).
By the end of the first film, Brad and Dusty had bonded as co-dads. So this time, the filmmakers shake things up by adding their fathers. Brad’s dad, Don (two-time Oscar nominee John Lithgow), is very talkative and friendly as well as extremely affectionate toward his son. Dusty’s Dad, Kurt (Mel Gibson), is mean, selfish and has never been there for his son. The plot of the film is very thin and mainly involves Kurt’s attempts to drive a wedge between Brad and Dusty during the family’s Christmas vacation.
Whether or not you like these films probably depends a lot on whether or not you like Ferrell’s passive-aggressive nice guy act. For me, it is more miss than hit. A little of it goes a very long way. Wahlberg is okay but, oddly, mainly plays straight-man to his costars. As far as their dads go, Lithgow plays his role well, but subtlety is not a strong point with these films and his act ends up getting laid on far too thick. Meanwhile, they never figured out a way to make Gibson’s Kurt mean in a funny way. He is just an unpleasant jerk and that never really works to the film’s benefit.
The only other significant role goes to Cardellini, who is given very little to do (which means she gets more to do than she did last time out). Likewise, her two kids, Wahlberg’s wife, Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio), and his step-daughter, Adrianna (Didi Costine), are all there just to set up jokes for the other characters. Additionally, wrestler John Cena also shows up in a small role as Adrianna's biological father in the film's last third (his character was introduced right at the end of the first film). He has shown some comic ability in films like Sisters and Trainwreck (both from 2015). Those films gave him actual characters to play, but here he does not get to do much beyond looking intimidating.
Really, in the end, a comedy like this, with little character or story, lives or dies on the cleverness of its gags. Daddy’s Home 2 has its moments, but is mostly a retread of its predecessor, which was not that funny in the first place. Really, this is the type of film where you already know if you are going to see it or not by looking at the poster. You know exactly what kind of film it is and whether or not you will like it. I did not like it, though I did laugh a few times. “It is not terrible” is not much of a recommendation. But there you have it.
2 out of 5
Will Ferrell as Brad
Mark Wahlberg as Dusty
Mel Gibson as Kurt
John Lithgow as Don
Linda Cardellini as Sara
Owen Vaccaro as Dylan
Scarlett Estevez as Megan
Didi Costine as Adrianna
Alessandra Ambrosio as Karen
John Cena as Roger
Directed by Sean Anders
Written by Sean Ander and John Morris