In 2015, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg starred in the surprisingly hilarious Daddy’s Home, which pitted a testosterone-fueled father against an overly-sensitive step-dad. This wasn’t the first time we saw this “odd couple” pairing, and director Sean Anders put together a timely, touching story that worked better than it should have. When the trailer for Daddy’s Home 2 was revealed, it made me laugh every single time I saw it. Needless to say, I was looking forward to this sequel very much. This movie won’t make any of my top ten lists of favorite comedies or holiday movies, but you can bet your ugly Christmas sweater I had a great time. It’s the epitome of a one-and-done movie for me, however. It consistently tries too hard and forces uncomfortable situations, but it’s still a ton of fun seeing these four actors on-screen at the same time.
Where the first film centered around Brad (Ferrell), Daddy’s Home 2 puts Dusty (Wahlberg) in the driver seat. He and Brad have settled their differences since the first film and have decided to work hard at making their dysfunctional family a functional one. When the families decide to combine Christmases for the first time, it seems as if harmony has truly set in. Unfortunately, the more family you add to the holidays, the higher the chance for disaster. This is very much the case when both Dusty and Brad’s fathers join the mix. Kurt (Mel Gibson) is even more manly that Dusty, and Don (John Lithgow) has an annoyingly-close relationship with his son, Brad. As expected, personalities clash, tempers flare, and Christmas is nearly ruined to near Christmas Vacation levels of insanity.
There’s nothing about this story that screams “classic”. My comparison to National Lampoon was very intentional. If this film had been released back then, I believe it wouldn’t be getting nearly as much negative press as it has. I’ll be the first to admit that awkward family holiday movies have run their course, but there’s still some genuine laughs to be had here.
While Kurt is poised to be the antagonist of the story, it’s interesting to find that all four fathers have a part in ruining the family experience. I think that’s what I found refreshing and surprising about Daddy’s Home 2. I went in expecting to hate one particular character, but wound being disgusted with pretty much everybody. While that may not make sense on the surface, it really made the inevitable conclusion much sweeter when you’re rooting for the whole family.
Wahlberg, who is no stranger to comedy, straddles the line between tough guy and softie in believable fashion. Ferrell is, well, Will Ferrell. There’s no real surprises here as his character comprises his typical schtick. I just happen to be in the camp that isn’t quite tired of it yet, especially when he adds heart to the equation. The addition of Gibson and Lithgow is what really made this recipe of disaster work for me. I love seeing actors work against each other as polar opposites that I never knew I wanted. Both actors prove that they still have it when it comes to their respective roles.
My only gripe is the lack of John Cena, who only made slightly more than a cameo appearance. While his presence does add fuel to the dumpster fire that is this family’s Christmas, it seems like a missed opportunity to not make him a focal point of the plot. I’m looking forward to seeing him in larger comedic roles in the future.
Despite my wife informing me that Daddy’s Home 2 will be making our yearly holiday movie rotation each year, I’m not quite as optimistic as she is. Yes, I laughed out loud way more than I should have, but I don’t believe this film deserves multiple viewings. And that’s a huge selling point for me. It’s worth a single watch, if nothing else to see Mel Gibson in true form. I’m just not sure I want to see it again, or Daddy’s Home 3, for that matter. Unless, of course, that movie stars John Cena in as a leading role.