We’ve already established on this blog that I have an ever-growing love for Mark Wahlberg as an actor. He’s pretty consistently good these days but hasn’t had a film that really gave him the sort of real credibility he found in The Departed. He seems to have firmly situated himself into the realm of shitty buddy comedies. It makes it difficult to be a fan because, no matter how good he is, the films are ultimately too awful to make it seem worthwhile to watch. In fact, I think the most recent Mark Wahlberg film I’ve seen is probably Ted. I didn’t even see Ted 2 because I lost some faith in Seth MacFarlane after A Million Ways To Die. However, I’m always a sucker for a Will Ferrell film. I mean even a shit film starring him is probably going to have some laughs in it, right?
Daddy’s Home brings Wahlberg back together with his The Other Guys buddy, Will Ferrell, in a comedy about parenting. If comedy writers are stuck for ideas they can just throw their characters into a petty rivalry and have them outdo each other to an absurd degree. We’ve seen it about some fucking ridiculous concepts by now, including Christmas lights, wedding days, whatever the fuck they can think of. Now they’ve turned to fatherhood. Ferrell plays Brad, the dull but loving stepfather to his new wife’s two kids. It takes a lot of effort on Brad’s part but eventually his packed lunches and PTA attending routine gets his stepchildren on his side and they begin to accept him into their family. That is, until their biological father, Dusty, turns up. Dusty is, obviously, Brad’s antithesis. He’s cool, fun and incredibly intimidating. The kids adore having Dusty back in their lives and he delights in proving to Brad just how much he fits in with the family.
What follows is a by-the-books comedy that probably won’t thrill or really offend anyone. Daddy’s Home isn’t such a terrible film that you want to club yourself to death instead of watch it but it is an uninspired and clichéd comedy that’s following a tired and overdone formula. There’s is nothing unexpected or unusual about it. Nothing clever to make you think it was worth someone taking the time to put fingers to keys. However, there is something likeable about it. The two leads still have the good comedic chemistry that worked so well for them in The Other Guys. They work well together and manage to bring something to the formulaic one-upmanship. Just as before, Wahlberg plays the dick ex-husband remarkably well and Ferrell always manages to make the straight-laced dullard work for him. Neither character is well developed though. There are touches of something deeper that a better film-maker would have made more reference to but they just get swept under the rug. Any notion that Rusty is riddled with self-doubt and feels inadequate is quickly forgotten. The small sniff we have of a potentially exciting youth for Brad goes nowhere. This needed more development to really work better.
The problem is that there isn’t enough of a story to sustain a full-length film. The narrative is a short sketch stretched over a full 90 minutes or so. There just aren’t enough jokes to adequately fill the time. It doesn’t make much of an impact on any level but it’s difficult to completely hate it. Fact is, any film that ends with an amazing dance sequence is always going to end on something of a high note. Despite all of the obviousness of the narrative, there is something about the familiarity that allows you to get swept along for the ride. There’s something about Ferrell’s hopeless Brad that makes you root for him regardless. I just wish there’d been more to it all.