Daddy's Home 2

 

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Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are back as the mismatched “progressive co-dads” and 

this time have to deal with the embarrassment of their own fathers at Christmas.

 
DADDy's Home 2

Life with father: Mel Gibson, Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell and John Lithgow

 

The good news is that Daddy's Home 2 is not as awful as Dirty Grandpa; the bad that it isn't as funny as A Bad Moms Christmas. While the last named was offensive, sentimental, tired and lazy, it did have some semblance of a recognisable, albeit far-off reality. Here, the caricatures are writ so large that one can but squirm at the exaggerated buffoonery. The connection is grandparenthood, previously lampooned to modest effect in Meet the Fockers (2004). Having ridiculed every outlying limb of the extended dysfunctional family, Hollywood has now zoomed in on the embarrassment factor of Grandma and Grandpa, previously the reserve of the gentle, warm and wise.

 

In Daddy’s Home (2015), Will Ferrell played Brad Whitaker, the square, mild-mannered stepfather of Megan and Dylan, the children of his new wife, Sara (Linda Cardellini). Then the status quo was upended with the arrival of the kids’ biological dad, Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberg), who was everything that Brad wasn’t. It was a chalk and cheese salad and the comedy romped off with $150 million in the US alone – in spite of negative reviews.

 

In the sequel, Brad and Dusty are now best friends and decide to unite everybody for a communal Christmas, including Dusty’s new wife Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio) and her daughter Adrianna. The kids are thrilled, as are their male guardians, now going by the label of “progressive co-dads.” Then the unimaginable happens: both Brad and Dusty’s own fathers decide to join the happy ensemble and, as so often occurs in these types of movies, arrive at the airport at exactly the same time. Brad’s dad is Don, a tsunami of exuberance and good cheer, played by John Lithgow. Dusty’s father Kurt, as to be expected, is the polar opposite, a blast of bile and bigotry played by Mel Gibson. Let the high jinks commence…

 

Once the cast is in place, the same joke is played over and over again. Mad Mel snarls, John Lithgow twitters and Will Ferrell falls over. In the hands of a competent director, some rich social satire could have been mined here – the film is anything if not topical – yet the farce jumps for the obvious at every opportunity. And nothing rings true. When Kurt suggests they all spend Christmas at a winter resort, he books a trip on his phone in less than a minute. As if. Unable to pack the boot of his car as neatly as his father would like, Dusty just chucks Brad’s suitcase into a hedge. The only scene that has any resonance in real life is a rumpus over the setting of a thermostat. More of the same might have provided a modicum of comic mileage.

 

A cosy conclusion is inevitable and as we wait for the next pratfall, the film climaxes with a set piece straight out of the Richard Curtis handbook – complete with a crowd of responsive on-lookers. For any of this to have succeeded, some of the edge of Bad Santa would not have gone amiss, let alone the ingenuity of a Home Alone or an Arthur Christmas.

 

Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, John Lithgow, Mel Gibson, Linda Cardellini, John Cena, Scarlett Estevez, Owen Vaccaro, Alessandra Ambrosio, Didi Costine, Andrea Anders, Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, and the voice of Liam Neeson.

 

Dir Sean Anders, Pro Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Chris Henchy, John Morris and Kevin Messick, Screenplay Sean Anders and John Morris, Ph Julio Macat, Pro Des Clayton Hartley, Ed Brad Wilhite, Music Michael Andrews, Costumes Carol Ramsey.

 

Gary Sanchez Productions/Huahua Media-Paramount Pictures.

99 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 22 November 2017. Cert. 12A.