Daddy’s Home 2
Released on November 10, 2017 Rating:
Father and stepfather Dusty and Brad join forces to make Christmastime perfect for the children. Their newfound partnership soon gets put to the test when Dusty’s old-school, macho dad and Brad’s gentle father arrive to turn the holiday upside down. After a sudden change in plans, the four men decide to take the kids to a luxury resort for a fun-filled getaway that turns into a hilariously chaotic adventure.
I have seen a lot of sequels lately: Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Boo 2, and A Bad Mom’s Christmas – the last of which I absolutely loved. But in each of these reviews I talk about sequel lenses. Sequels are almost never on the same level of the original, no matter how entertaining they are. And to surpass the original – I can count examples on one hand, but now I have another to add to that list: Daddy’s Home 2.
Daddy’s Home 2 is funnier than the original. Better yet, the jokes, while still crass and bordering inappropriate for younger audiences (or completely inappropriate depending on the age and how parents feel about swearing) these jokes are in better taste. The original made jokes at the expense of kids in wheelchairs and ailing dogs, and this movie doesn’t depend on taking jabs at those that really shouldn’t be jabbed in the first place.
Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell return as dueling dads, Wahlberg as the macho birth father and Ferrell as the wimpiest person I have encountered onscreen since I can remember. The original is all about their rivalry, but dare I say they’re actually much funnier as allies, taking on an odd couple bromance quality. One of my favorite scenes of the entire movie is in the beginning when Ferrell brings Wahlberg hot cocoa and it’s Wahlberg’s turn to bring treats to a kid event. Wahlberg says he’ll stop by a bakery and Ferrell has this priceless look on his face and says that’s fine. Wahlberg says that he knows by that look it isn’t fine like a couple who have their own code that the other has learned to crack. It doesn’t mean these guys don’t still harbor a little animosity towards each other (they actually use “harbor” as the running joke to describe this) but they are pretty much good with each other. Until their dads enter the scene.
Mel Gibson plays Wahlberg’s ultra-macho, womanizing, deadbeat cliché dad who is sexist at best, but honestly I kind of see his character as an equal opportunity prick – we just never see him around people of color, LGBT folks or people with disabilities. John Lithgow plays Ferrell’s father, who isn’t quite as wimpy as his son, but certainly cuts it close and is just touchy/feely to a point of uncomfortableness. I’m sorry but grown fathers and sons who kiss each other HARD on the lips for several seconds is just creepy, and it’s not me being sexist, I would think the same thing of any child/parent combination. I mean we’re talking about 40-somethings here. Still, both of these actors raise the comedy bar in this film, upping the ante with both plot and added humor.
Gibson’s character is both passive-aggressive and flat out aggressive in trying to break up the peaceful coexistence Ferrell and Wahlberg have reached. He is disgusted with Ferrell’s lack of machismo and looks at Lithgow as a sad excuse for a father, and a man. He doesn’t hide any of this throughout the entire movie. But this is a guy who tells dead hooker jokes to small children, sees them every five plus years, and tells his granddaughter that her place isn’t to hunt, but to cook the food the men bring back. He is an ass – period.
Lithgow is pretty much the movie’s punching bag, between being left for dead and eaten by wolves to being assaulted with several ice balls, he has taken up a great deal of Ferrell’s physical comedy (don’t worry, plenty happens to Ferrell still, he even dies again). He is just so sweet, you can’t help but wish he was your dad, but also want to sit him down and give him a gentle dose of reality.
The whole “added talent/celebrity” is one of the oldest and most widely used formulas for sequels to use (even A Bad Mom’s Christmas centers on this formula, mirroring Daddy’s Home 2) but this might be the first film I’ve seen where it goes past gimmick and actually makes the movie genuinely better.
This movie is carried by its cast, but as I’ve already said the jokes are better – sharper, wittier, and producing more laughs every time, which means this movie has a stronger script and better writing overall. The pace is also on point and this movie is the perfect length – not too long or too short (just over 90 minutes). Pretty much everything in this movie just works, and I only have two criticisms.
First, the final scene was pretty hokey. Like it took on such a lovey-dovey far-fetched cornball turn, I thought it didn’t work. It was cheesy and didn’t fit the tone of the rest of the film. They could have delivered the same message and lessons in a scene that felt truer to the film and characters and didn’t produce eyerolls and shaking heads.
The other criticism is less of a criticism and more of a suggestion. I really wish they had swapped Gibson’s and Lithgow’s roles. Gibson is a former Hollywood player who has basically dried up because of his repeated anti-semetic and racist rants. So having him play a jack-hole is like having him play himself, and for me is just made me dislike Gibson, the actor, even more. And Lithgow always plays these offbeat, clueless yet overall sweet guys (3rd Rock From the Sun, Trial & Error). How interesting and funny would it have been for these actors to break type, with Lithgow playing the womanizing, sexist creep and Gibson playing the clueless, overly affectionate, “off” dad. It would have made this movie better, and delivered something audiences never expected to see. A missed opportunity sure, but this doesn’t change that this movie will make you laugh – a lot. And really that’s all you need to know.
Daddy’s Home 2 is a sequel that actually surpasses the original. It’s funnier, better balanced and paced, and has added star power that actually elevates the movie. If you want a good laugh, then look no further than Daddy’s Home 2. It will not disappoint! 🙂