Daddy'd Home 2
Jacob Richardson | 13/11/2017
Daddy’s Home 2 is one of the most contrived films of the year, complete with a Mel Gibson performance that will have you both laughing, and looking around the cinema questioning whether it is OK to do so. But, with an amazing final cameo and some generally solid grounding in a humorous christmas scenario, Daddy’s Home 2 becomes a generally adequate holiday picture.
After their reconciliation at the end of the first film, Brad (Will Ferrell) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) seem to have the whole co-dad thing down pat, even if Brad’s wife Sara (Linda Cardellini) is somewhat disenchanted with Dusty’s aloof wife Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio). However, when Brad’s dad Don (John Lithgow) and Dusty’s dad Kurt (Mel Gibson) come to town, the fragile peace between the stepdad and real father is threatened.
Daddy’s Home 2 undoubtedly has some issues with casting. Mel Gibson is still particularly controversial casting, and in this role, as the womanizing Kurt who literally tells his grandson to, after planting a kiss on a girl, slap her ass and tell her how lucky she is, it is almost like kindling to the politically correct flame. But Mel plays into his prior behaviour and reputation, adding a level of meta-humour to his performance that kind of works, albeit in a way that will have you second guessing whether it is ok to find this funny.
More problematic is the humour, which tends towards extended “laugh because it is going on so long” gags too often. That’s not to say that there aren’t great moments of levity - but there isn’t anything particularly memorable amongst this barrage of laughs that we have seen too many times before. There’s some nice moments with John Lithgow’s improv comedy, Gibson being shot in the arm, and a beautiful running gag about the thermostat. But the real laughs are too few, and too far apart.
One of the biggest problems of the original was the terrible supporting characters, written not only as subjugates to our heroes, but also as truly terrible plot impetus. Alas, the sequel does nothing better in this respect. Not only is the perennially underserved Linda Cardellini once again written as the nagging wife, but Karen is written as an inattentive, disinterested mother. This is combined with a number of children who are ratcheted up to 11 on the annoyance scales. Motivations are unclear, in particular around these kids, who act as nothing more than convenient plot devices when needed.
It’s a shame, because the film does really well at delivering backstory for the two new grandfathers in subtle ways. The general plot is also pretty strong and well thought out. The christmas setting doesn’t seem as unwarranted as, say, Bad Moms 2; instead giving us a story structure that supports the comedy, anchoring it rather than being driven by it. And there are some really good gags; it’s just a shame that you’re either bored, or hating the children, in between them.
Daddy’s Home 2 isn’t going to revolutionize the world of comedy, even in the slightest. But, for the most part, it functions adequately enough, and is worth the occasionally mediocre jokes and horrific children for the brief, impossibly rewarding final cameo.