UK Release Date: 22nd November 2017
Runtime: 100 minutes
Director: Sean Anders
Writer: Sean Anders, John Morris
Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, John Lithgow, Linda Cardellini, John Cena, Alessandra Ambrosio, Didi Costine
Synopsis: The stepdads of the original film try to work together, despite the problems created by spending Christmas with their own respective fathers as part of a dysfunctional family unit.
This year’s crop of festive movies has been a rather disappointing one, with The Man Who Invented Christmas and A Bad Moms Christmas failing to find amusement in the Yuletide period. Daddy’s Home 2 arrives as a sequel to the surprisingly decent 2015 original film, which pitted Will Ferrell‘s affectionate stepdad against Mark Wahlberg‘s macho biological father.
In almost identical fashion to A Bad Moms Christmas, this follow-up sees the fragile equilibrium of the dads’ new friendship tested by the arrival of another generation of fathers. Wahlberg’s father is played by Mel Gibson as a classical misogynist and right-wing gun nut, while Ferrell’s dad is John Lithgow – a cuddly bloke who kisses his son on the mouth for far too long at the airport and can’t stand the two weeks for which he hasn’t seen him. They all decide to spend Christmas together at a remote lodge.
There are a handful of solid gags in Daddy’s Home 2, but they are spread exceptionally thin over the running time. Every successful quip is subsequently undone by an obvious slapstick pratfall or a poorly judged joke, mostly delivered by Mel Gibson. The casting of Gibson only works if there’s some sort of commentary about his past baked into it, but the film instead seems to love Gibson and casts him as a classic masculine type. A particular set piece in which he convinces a child to love guns couldn’t possibly be more off-base, especially given its grim end point.
The relationship between Ferrell and Wahlberg’s character is not deepened beyond where it ended up at the end of the first movie and all of the characters seem to be walking on the spot. John Cena, who made a brief cameo at the end of the original film, only pops up for a relatively short appearance this time around as well, though he’s great comedic value when he does appear, sending up his persona in a similar way to his silly turn in Trainwreck.
Cena arrives in the midst of the bizarre final act of Daddy’s Home 2, which takes place almost entirely via a lengthy period of product placement for a particular cinema chain. It’s a baffling choice that proves to be every bit as boring as much of the rest of the ludicrous plotting, though it does culminate in a festive singalong that has enough of an uplifting message that it almost redeems the entire thing. No amount of festive cheer, though, is enough to make up for the black hole of comedy.
Pop or Poop?
Despite the solid groundwork laid by the original, Daddy’s Home 2 fails to bring much festive cheer and certainly struggles to create much comedy from its premise. Mel Gibson drives a spanner into the works of the whole thing with his toxic presence and a late rendition of a classic Christmas song isn’t enough to rescue this particularly undercooked meal.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.