I watched the first Daddy’s Home film because I have a secret of Mark Wahlberg. And by love, I mean I appreciate how much he’s willing to make fun of himself. It must have been after watching The Other Guys, the first film he did with Will Ferrell. It was so much better than I ever would have believed and Wahlberg was a big part of that. Although, I can’t pretend that I enjoyed the film. I didn’t. I just think the pair were super funny together. Funny enough to make me want to see their next team-up Daddy’s Home. Once again, it failed to do anything exciting and was a big disappointment. So, I decided to skip the festive follow-up when it was released.
I didn’t like the first Daddy’s Home film but there was the occasional fun moment in there. Mostly thanks to the combined performances of its two stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. Both men are willing to make themselves look stupid for the good of the film and it’s amusing to watch. But there can be no denying that the concept itself is hardly groundbreaking. It tried to take the odd couple element and mix it together with the rivalry between father and step-father. It wasn’t great and it definitely wasn’t the kind of film that needed or deserved a sequel. I don’t think anyone who watched the first one was really crying out to go through it again but it made a shit load of money. So, it’s obvious why the second one came along. And why it got Mel Gibson and John Lithgow on board. Okay, so Lithgow isn’t the big draw here but he’s still something of a household name.
Because this time, the Daddys of the original are joined by their Daddys. It quickly becomes apparent that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as Dusty’s (Mark Wahlberg) father is a womaniser who neglected his son and doesn’t show emotion towards him. Brad’s (Will Ferrell) father is an incredibly caring and talkative guy. Both these men have the trait of their sons but taken even further. For comedy, you know. At least John Lithgow looks to be having fun for most of the film. Mel Gibson looks like he’s made the biggest mistake of his life. Doing Daddy’s Home 2 isn’t the worst thing he’s ever done but it’s hardly something to be proud of. Maybe it would have been better had he not been haunting the whole thing like the ghost of sexist fathers past.
Sexism that it looks as if the film is going to address but it never does. In fact, there are plenty of issues that this film raises but never does anything with. Any attempt at depth is stopped in favour of more pratt falls or observations about how protective men are about the thermostat. It’s a really difficult film to summarise the plot. It doesn’t really have one. It’s just a series of little sketches that are stuck together with the flimsiest premise. There’s stuff with the kids, stuff about divorce, Brad’s new baby, Dusty’s step-daughter, and a lot of overlooked women. I’m amazed they managed to drag it out for as long as they did.
Daddy’s Home 2 isn’t just a bad film: it’s a lazy film. It just takes the story and conflicts from the first film and repeats them again. The whole story involved Brad and Dusty being opposites who don’t like each other. We’ve been there. Adding two more people to the mix doesn’t help. The jokes aren’t funny and any potential for humour is squeezed for whatever it’s worth. This wasn’t a film made with any passion or care. It was made to take more money from naive cinema-goers. And that should be super easy. Especially as it was a Christmas film. There’s very little you can do at Christmas that doesn’t spread some kind of cheer. Daddy’s Home 2 can’t even get that right. This has nothing festive about it. There’s a scene when all of the characters start singing a Christmas song and it’s the most lifeless thing I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen most of Netflix’s Christmas films.