Daddy’s Home 2, 2017.
Directed by Sean Anders
Starring Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, John Lithgow, Linda Cardellini, Alessandra Ambrosio and John Cena
Since we last saw them in Daddy’s Home, warring dads Dusty and Brad have learned to live with being co-parents and are unlikely – but best – buddies. When they decide the entire family should spend Christmas under one roof – and that includes their respective fathers – the question is which roof. Until one of the grandfathers books a log cabin big enough for all of them ……
‘Tis the season for a sequel. Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Enough of the approaching seasonal jollity. It’s only November. And, on the evidence of Daddy’s Home 2, we’ve had enough of sequels already. OK, Paddington 2 is, admittedly, a joy, but A Bad Moms Christmas is anything but and Wahlberg and Ferrell’s latest double act is only marginally better.
Director and writer Sean Anders has aimed to cashed in on the box office appeal of his two stars, and the original Daddy’s Home, with a second outing for dad Dusty (Wahlberg) and step-dad Brad (Ferrell). All their competitiveness from the first film has gone and now they’re the best of friends, but the holiday season is looming. Surely they can’t stay that way for ever? Of course they can’t but, in an effort to add some seasonal spice, Anders brings their respective fathers to stay: Dusty’s macho, womanising and frequently absent one, Kurt (Mel Gibson) and Brad’s loveable, tender hearted and talkative pop, Don (John Lithgow). And he throws in some animosity between Dusty and Kurt for good measure.
Not that it helps much. The original may not go down in movie history as a comedy classic, but at least it had a couple of decent set pieces and enough chortles to hold its head up. The same can’t be said of this sorry effort, which tries to repeat the same formula but, rather like Ferrell, ends up face down in the snow. His prolonged physical comedy stunt this time round fizzles out and his best moment involves chucking a snowball. That’s also where most of the giggles in the film begin and end, the other being when everybody is stuck in a cinema during a snowstorm and ends up watching a Liam Neeson film. Some familiar seasonal tunes pad out the so-called action, culminating in a schmaltzy rendition of Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, so that it sticks in your head for ages afterwards. Again.
Ferrell and Wahlberg’s characters haven’t changed since the last movie, although Wahlberg tones down his macho side. That’s taken over by his other rival, his partner’s ex, Roger (John Cena), whose role has grown substantially since his blink-and-you’d miss him appearance in the first film. And, while he’s not quite as muscle-bound, Gibson is full of masculine attitudes, playing it like a parody of himself – or the image we all have of him. Poor John Lithgow is wasted as the other father, given little to do other than be kindly and warm-hearted and doing it loudly. Even his attempt at keeping something from his son is so conspicuously telegraphed from the start that it’s the worst kept secret going.
December may not have arrived yet but, based on Daddy’s Home 2, ‘tis also the season for dysfunctional families. The trouble is, once you’ve seen one festive movie on the subject, you’ve seen them all.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Freda Cooper. Follow me on Twitter.