2015’s Daddy’s Home felt like a cut-and-paste job from director Sean Anders. He most likely watched The Other Guys (2010), saw the chemistry between Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell, and thought he could do the same. So thats what he did. The exact same.
It was a functioning comedy that got enough laughs to not be totally written off — the $250 million box office return agrees with that — but Anders milked the basic concept of having an alpha and a beta male try to work together until long after the teat ran dry.
In Daddy’s Home 2, Anders did what any comedy writer with few ideas and grand aspirations would do; add even more exagerrated A-List characters in the hopes that lightening will strike the same spot twice. Like so many bad comedy films, the sequel is worse and this is no different.
After a school show where one of the children says how she doesn’t like Christmas because she can’t spend it with everyone she loves, the co-dads decide to have a big Christmas altogether. Both Brad (Will Ferrell) and Dusty’s (Mark Wahlberg) fathers are coming too. As luck would have it they will be arriving on the same day, at the same airport, at the same terminal, at the same time, and will walk down the escalator just long enough apart to have a proper introduction of one before the other. How about that!
The first to appear is Kurt, Dusty’s ladies man of a father, played by Mel Gibson. In every scene his character appears, Gibson creates a humour vacuum. It was as if every word he spoke was a drop of vitriol onto my eyes, an uncontrollably painful experience that you desperately want to end. One of the first lines for Kurt when he sees his grandchildren is a joke about dead hookers, and it doesn’t get better from there.
Brad’s father Jonah was, however, played by an ever-charasmatic John Lithgow. Even softer than Brad, he has some genuinely heartfelt scenes throughout the film, but each one is ruined by limp jokes. It briefly touches on loneliness after a long-term marriage ends, but Anders doesn’t have the ‘cahones’ to explore these ideas in any depth, which was mightily disappointing.
The biggest aspect of the film I took issue with was Mel Gibson’s character, and in particular his lines. Now I am a firm believer of separating the art from the artist. I believe that we should be able to enjoy a film for what it is and not shun it because of the actions of one out of the hundreds of people working on it. Yet Mel Gibson’s character makes a joke about violence against women and that left a sour taste in my mouth.
Previously Gibson has been in the spotlight for anti-Semitic and racist comments as well as confessing to beating his girlfriend while she was holding their baby daughter. As a result of this many people refuse to see Gibson’s films and I respect their right to do that, but it is unsurprising that he still gets cast in blockbuster movies. To watch as he jokes about the very things he did, things he still shows no remorse for, is disgusting.
The final scene sparked anger in me too, however nowhere near that same level. Both halves of the family naturally break apart and then unwittingly meet back up at a cinema on Christmas. There is an acapella group on a little stage that Brad interrupts to make a grand speech about how cinemas are the place to go with people you love and to meet new people, to rekindle his families relationships.
The speech seems to win over everyone in the lobby, making them forget about the fact not two minutes before they watched an incestuous kiss as one of the children kisses another. It wins over the cinema staff too who start handing out free chocolate and drinks. I thought I’d seen a lot of unrealistic moments in film but this really takes the cake.