3 reviews

  • Daddy’s Home 2 is my latest review. It’s a follow-up to 2015’s surprise hit, Daddy’s Home. The first outing wasn’t great to begin with. Guess what, “2” is even worse.

    Remember when Chevy Chase got into all kinds of shenanigans during National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? Well Will Ferrell does the same exact shtick in Daddy’s Home 2. Ferrell’s gifts as a physical comedian are evident. The difference is that Chase’s movie was done with a bit more craft. Heck, it had an actual story mind you.

    “2”, with its clips of kids getting drunk on eggnog, a nativity scene being destroyed, Xmas lights getting caught in a snowblower, and captain “Sully” Sullenger making a small cameo, is a yuletide cash grab just like A Bad Moms Christmas (released ten days earlier). The films are eerily similar with Daddy’s Home 2 being the gender-flipped version of “Christmas”. With A Bad Moms Christmas, the males are reduced to forgotten caricatures as they harbor minimal dialogue and fade into the background. With “2”, the females don’t have much to do either in terms of the overall plot. They are merely around for decoration (ha-ha, get it?).

    Listen, “2” may be PG-13 (as opposed to A Bad Moms Christmas having a hard R) and it may be more slapstick in nature. Don’t be fooled though. These flicks are mirror images of each other. They are both using the holidays as a hook to capitalize on the success of the originals. Yup, Daddy’s Home 2 isn’t a “home” worth saving.

    “2’s” director (Sean Anders) sans production values and trouper, conflict coherency in favor of sloppy editing, too many characters (stepdads, stepmoms, grandpas, stepchildren, etc.), and perennial, movie star wattage. His “2” isn’t an actual motion picture. It’s more of a series of set-ups, designed to get the viewer to chuckle occasionally. Almost every scene in Daddy’s Home 2 is manipulated (or inserted) onto the screen without a true reason for being. Oh and by the way, Ferrell’s pseudo-clumsiness here is definitely not rooted in reality.

    In the realm of casting, Anders brings in John Lithgow and Mel Gibson to play the weirdo dads to Mark Wahlberg and Ferrell. Gibson, who has always been a favorite of mine, has obviously not been forgiven by Hollywood yet. In his heyday, he would’ve never agreed to star in something as shambolic as Daddy’s Home 2.

    All in all, the final sequence in “2” involves everyone snowed in at a movie theater on Xmas day. As the whole cast belts out “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, I realized that I need to picket the resurrection of every sequel from hear on out. Rating: 1 and a half stars.

    Rating: 1.5 out of 4 stars

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  • Mediocre minds think alike – this year’s so-so holiday-themed sequels to Bad Moms and Daddy’s Home both bring in the parents and prove that the more isn’t exactly the merrier. At least both were wise in their casting: Bad Moms 2 welcomed Susan Sarandon, Cheryl Hines and the fabulous Christine Baranski into their fold whilst Daddy’s Home 2 recruits John Lithgow and Mel Gibson, the former forever confirming his versatility whilst the latter may prove a more divisive figure in the wake of Weinstein.

    Two years have passed since the events of the first film, which revolved around the pissing contest between mild-mannered Brad (Will Ferrell) and his stepkids’ muscled, motorcycle jacket-wearing biological dad Dusty (Mark Wahlberg). The former rivals have put aside their differences to become progressive co-parents and perhaps even real friends. Yet audiences haven’t paid money to see Brad and Dusty play at happy families, so the filmmakers stir up some trouble with the arrival of Brad and Dusty’s dads.

    It’s no surprise where Brad gets his well-intentioned, overenthusiastic nature from for Don (Lithgow) is an absolute tornado of love and kindness. Father and son enthusiastically greet one another with hugs and kisses in stark contrast to the negative energy that buzzes between Dusty and his old man, retired astronaut and hardcore macho man Kurt (Gibson). Gruff and grizzled, Kurt predictably gets under Dusty’s skin, especially when he decides to rent out a mountainside Airbnb for the whole family to spend the holidays.

    Dusty suspects that Kurt is out to disrupt the peace between himself and Brad and though both he and Brad insist there are no lingering feelings of rivalry and resentment harbouring, one can be safely assured that Kurt shall excavate them and bring them to the fore. Indeed, it’s not too long before Brad and Dusty are trading increasingly not so passive-aggressive snipes at one another. If the verbal spats aren’t enough to entertain audiences, then the filmmakers thoughtfully include slapstick set pieces with Ferrell on the receiving end of the pain. The bits themselves are not necessarily funny, though the sight of Kurt delighting in Brad’s abuse enough to film it with his mobile does elicit a genuine chuckle.

    Daddy’s Home 2 coasts along for most of its 100-minute runtime with most everyone either on auto-pilot or defaulting to their natural personas, which may be satisfactory enough for fans of the first film and the individual performers. The biggest laughs and most entertainment arrive in the last 15 or 25 minutes, kickstarted by the appearance of John Cena (whose surprise cameo at the end of the first film was a highlight; the sequel crafts another well-chosen cameo). Though one wishes that there was more of Cena or that Gibson and Lithgow switched roles, Daddy’s Home 2 is an innocuous enough piece of disposable viewing.

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  • Some good comedy moments drowned in schmaltz.
    Rating: 6*

    Comedy and tragedy have always gone together hand-in-hand. Every great comedy tends to have its bitter-sweet moments: Roberts Blossom as the “shovel-killer” grandad in “Home Alone” (who always reminds me of my late Dad… in appearance I might add, not that he was a shovel killer!); John Candy’s depressed shower-ring salesman in “Planes Trains and Automobiles”; Ron Burgundy bawling in a phone box in “Anchorman”. The balance between the two is the key thing and comedies can sometimes get it wrong (the Bird Woman in “Home Alone 2” for example!).

    Here is another case in point: “Daddy’s Home 2”, which has some laugh-out-loud comedy moments, but is generally so utterly drenched in schmaltz and sentimentality that the film becomes far harder work than it should be. (By the way, I never saw “Daddy’s Home” (but read the IMDB synopsys): it was not a prerequisite for seeing this movie).

    Will Ferrell (“Get Hard“, “Anchorman“) reprises his role as the somewhat incompetent Brad, ‘sharing’ his family of kids and stepkids with the much more streetwise Dusty (Mark Wahlberg, “Patriot’s Day“). After a poignant school recital, the pair realise the damage that a distributed Christmas is doing to their offspring and they determine to spend Christmas all together this year. In the process they vow to try to put aside their attempts at one-upmanship – “the harbour is closed” – in the interests of giving everyone the best Christmas ever.

    But their plans are turned upside down when their fathers also turn up for Christmas: Mel Gibson (in a sublime piece of casting) plays Dusty’s dad, astronaut-hero Kurt, who is even more macho and extreme than Dusty, and John Lithgow (“Miss Sloane“; “The Accountant“) plays Brad’s airy-fairy father Don… the apple has not fallen far from the tree there. Kurt forces the family to ‘fight’ Christmas on a neutral turf by renting a palatial AirBnB in a snowy wilderness. Tensions rise between the diverse individuals until a breaking point is inevitably reached.

    There are some great farcical sight-gags in this movie. Quite a few of the funniest ones are spoiled by the trailer, but there are still a few standout routines that made me guffaw. A hi-tech shower is predictable but funny; and Brad’s use of a snowblower to apocalyptic ends is the funniest scene in the movie.

    Wahlberg and Ferrell are a trustworthy double act (after their initial surprise pairing in “The Other Guys”). Gibson and Lithgow also inhabit their roles perfectly, although it was hard of me to relate to either of them. The scene on the airport escalator as they arrive is very well done.

    The supporting cast all play their parts well: ER’s Linda Cardellini as Brad’s wife and Dusty’s ex-wife; Brazilian model and actress Alessandra Ambrosio, as Dusty’s (almost unbelievably good-looking) new wife Karen; and WWE star John Cena as Karen’s ex-husband. (Doesn’t ANYONE stay married in the US any more?). The kid stars – Didi Costine, Scarlett Estevez and Owen Vaccaro – are also good, with Estevez being particularly appealing. Watch out for a funny cameo in the final scene as well, which I found very amusing (“You only have one story” … LoL).

    What drowns out the comedy though is the sentimental storyline around a personal tragedy being lived out by one of the family. The angst and nasty back-biting that surrounds this I found neither funny nor pleasant. The story builds to a snow-bound cinema (showing “Missile Tow” starring Liam Neeson… a great “pointless answer” for the BBC’s “Pointless” quiz!) and a finale song that is just so over the top that it has both an “awww” factor and is bile-inducing all at the same time. The screenplay is by Sean Anders and John Morris, with Anders also directing.

    Will Ferrell films can be like a game of Russian Roulette, and I fully expected this to be truly awful. It wasn’t, and as a Christmas comedy it is an OK watch… and thankfully significantly above “Jingle all the Way”!

    (For the graphical review, please visit bob-the-movie-man.com or One Mann’s Movies on Facebook).

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