Daddy’s Home (2015)

Daddy’s Home (2015)
  • Time: 96 min
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Directors: Sean Anders, John Morris
  • Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini, Thomas Haden Church


Stepdad, Brad Whitaker, is a radio host trying to get his stepchildren to love him and call him Dad. But his plans turn upside down when the biological father, Dusty Mayron, returns.


  • Will Ferrell’s latest is a 2015 release that’s less amusing than his boldest endeavors (The Campaign, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby). Let’s just call Daddy’s Home (my latest review) Ferrell lite shall we. At 96 minutes, “Home” as a comedy is stupid funny without being hilarious. It’s like a mild hack job from director Sean Anders. Sean’s leads (Willy Boy and Mark Wahlberg) are perfectly cast with a few laughs seeping through. However, the screenplay by “Home’s” three writers is just meh. A creepy Thomas Haden Church (he plays a radio station owner) giving insensible advice is not amusing. A gag involving a dog who looks ragged while possessing silver-colored eyes is not amusing. A scene where characters dance with each other instead of fight each other is kind of half-baked. And finally, what’s with the adage of locales used in Daddy’s Home. Twenty minutes in and I thought things took place in Los Angeles, California. Come to find out that New Orleans, LA was the primary setting. I guess a car license plate and Pelicans basketball gave it away. Natch.

    Anyway, the three main characters in “Home” are in a sense, labeled. Their identities are sledgehammered towards the audience as if they were types. Brad Whitaker (Ferrell) is the dimwitted stepdad, a doofus lacking in self-confidence and an easy target for ridicule. Dusty Mayron (Wahlberg) is the biological dad, a manipulative jerk who deals in childcare MIA (he’s also a slimy badass). Finally, Sara Whitaker (played by Linda Cardellini) is the spouse of Brad, a beautiful yet dull housewife who seems to be caught in the middle of it all.

    Slapstick antics of the obligatory kind ensue with Brad Whitaker crashing a large motorcycle into his house, Whitaker punching Dusty without so much as a flinch, Whitaker getting drunk and hitting a cheerleader at a basketball game (with a b ball), and finally, Whit getting electrocuted while trying to skateboard in a backyard half-pipe. I chuckled, I winced, I checked my phone, and I eventually left the theater. The whole time I thought, this flick got green-lighted because of actor notoriety. There’s no other explanation.

    The story is as follows: Brad works as a radio executive and shares a beautiful house with his wife Sara plus her two kids (Scarlett Estevez and Owen Vaccaro as Dylan and Megan Mayron). He loves being a stepfather to them even though they haven’t warmed up to Brad yet. Just as he is about to make a connection with said ankle-biters, in walks Dusty Mayron, their real father who’s been away too long and is making up for lost time. Dusty I guess, works in black ops (that’s what a couple of other reviews said but I wasn’t entirely sure). He drives an intimidating chopper, he can build an intimidating tree house, and he has the radio voice to make mad royalties. Dusty’s motivation is to get his kids back at all cost, remarry his ex-wife, and eventually give her another baby. He even persuades Brad and Sara to let him stay at their home for an extended period of time. What happens next is you guessed it, an old-fashioned “dad-off”. Both of these dudes compete against each other for the affection of two adolescent tykes. Examples would be early Christmas for the kids (in April), complete with tons of presents including a pony. Another example would be the kids meeting Kobe Bryant while sitting in $18,000 seats (at an NBA game). Oh and who can forget Dusty telling fun stories while slipping them each twenty bucks. I wish I got that kind of dough when I was seven.

    All in all, watch for a lot of erratic jokes, PG-13 fare that doesn’t really push the envelope, Ferrell being Ferrell, and Wahlberg being Wahlberg. And despite feeling like a vehicle that was cooked up over a couple of days, Daddy’s Home has already made a ton of money ($162 million and counting). Bottom line: Everyone involved (the filmmakers, the producers, the studio executives) is probably laughing all the way to the bank. Rating: 2 stars.

    Of note: I read somewhere that Mark Wahlberg has achieved enough success to the point where he’s not trying to impress critics or parlay audience members. He now does movies for his kids, or for his self-satisfaction, or because he’s got clout, or whatever. “Home” is proof of that. Also of note: For the record, I couldn’t tell you whether Daddy’s Home is better than Ferrell/Wahlberg’s earlier screen pairing being 2010’s The Other Guys. I have yet to see that cult worthy, monster hit. Finally, I want to give “Home” points for picking actors who look alike (this applies to immediate family relations). I get annoyed when this is not the case (see my review for This Is Where I Leave You). If Wahlberg and Linda Cardellini had children in reality, they would probably look exactly like the young troupers featured here. Bravo to the casting department.

    Rating: 2 stars

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  • In Daddy’s Home, Will Ferrell plays Brad, gratefully wedded to Sarah (Linda Cardellini) and enthusiastically committed to his role as stepdad to her two children, Megan and Dylan (Scarlett Estevez and Owen Vaccaro).

    Bighearted Brad, unable to have kids of his own due to an accidental overexposure of radiation on his new essentially decorative testicles, is the kind of dad anyone would wish for, but he’s had to work hard to win over the initially distant and slightly resentful kids. One can fully understand how overwhelmed with optimism he is when Megan’s latest artwork features him with a knife in his eye (“It’s the first drawing where I’m not already dead. It’s progress!”), why he would want to take a selfie of the moment when Dylan confides how he’s being bullied in school, and why he would uncontrollably sob with happiness when Megan asks him to the Daddy-Daughter school dance. Ferrell is easily endearing in these early scenes, and Daddy’s Home might have ended up a warm and funny family film.

    Instead, just as Brad is beginning to feel like he’s part of the family, his wife’s ex-husband and the kids’ father, swaggers back into town. Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) is everything Brad is not: masculine, muscled, a total badass with leather jacket and motorcycle included. Dusty finagles a weeklong invitation from Brad to stay at the house and, though Sarah is wary of her unreliable ex, the understandably threatened Brad knows how important it is for the kids to spend time with their father.

    The problem is Dusty isn’t just looking to mend fences, he’s looking to reclaim what he left behind, and his attempts to undermine Brad not only on the homefront but in the workplace cause Brad’s insecurities to come to the fore. Within the space of Dusty’s weeklong visit, Brad is electrocuted, nearly kills himself riding on Dusty’s motorcycle, and is publicly humiliated when he exposes himself as he’s trying to produce a sperm sample in a fertility clinic. It’s all meant to elicit laughter, but intermittent half-hearted chuckles are the actual result.

    By virtue of the wildly inappropriate and wholly unrelated tales of his sexual and marital history, Thomas Haden Church’s character is the most amusing of the lot. As Brad’s boss Leo, he encourages Brad to play dirty with Dusty…until he meets Dusty. “If this guy was my wife’s ex, I’d put a bullet in my skull,” Leo tells Brad. Cardellini, Hannibal Buress as a handyman who becomes another inadvertent houseguest, and Bobby Cannavale as the fertility doctor are all wasted. There is a clever cameo by John Cena, but one may have to wait until a completely unnecessary sequel for his presence to have any potential.

    As for Ferrell and Wahlberg, they never quite reignite the surprising odd-couple chemistry they displayed in 2010’s The Other Guys. The main problem is the set-up itself. It is a premise rich with comic possibilities, but Ferrell and Wahlberg spark when they’re working with and not against one another. There’s no reason why Daddy’s Home couldn’t have been tweaked to have Brad and Dusty adjusting themselves to the new family dynamics without resorting to a stupid pissing contest. The one-upmanship could still exist; ditto for the neuroses affecting both men. The third act of the film actually settles into that mode of thinking and is all the better for it.

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  • Nice guy Brad (Will Ferrell) has settled down with Sara (Linda Cardellini) and her young offspring, the only problem being their resentment of him for not being their real dad. Gradually, however, they start to warm to him, until their real dad, Dusty (Mark Wahlberg), a swaggering rebel type, arrives back on the scene, and has to adjust to the new man in his place. They try and get on, but inevitably conflict arises and the pair find themselves in a deranged comedic battle to win the affection of Sara and the children.

    “The Other Guys” was one of those (fairly) recent comedies that didn’t make much of an impression on me when I first saw it, but that I warmed to and actually grew to quite like afterwards. So this second pairing of Hollywood tough guy Mark Wahlberg and affable comedian Will Ferrell sparked my interest, to see if they could recreate the chemistry of that film. The set-up is effectively the same, with Wahlberg as the mean edged hard case and Ferrell the more gentle natured, easy going type, only here he’s trying to fight against it, rather than just have a grudging acceptance of it.

    As a comedy, and as far as doing what it says on the tin, it delivers the goods, providing a fair dose of belly laughs at various points, the only problem is a story that fails to really maintain a steady narrative flow, jointing one scene to another without the best cohesion. This won’t be a massive problem if you just pay attention for the next funny set piece, which come by like buses, along with some of the slushy human drama in between.

    It’s another high concept Hollywood comedy, that generally works very well and paves another stone in what could turn out to be a prolific Wahlberg/Ferrell double act.

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