“Daddy’s Home Two” Movie Review


     Writer / director Sean Anders’ “Daddy’s Home Two” is exactly what one should expect, considering we are talking about the filmmaker who has not only the first installment, “Daddy’s Home”, on his resume, but also a number of other duds including “Horrible Bosses 2” and “That’s My Boy”.  Why would we expect anything different now?  In a film that plays as nothing more than a male version of the equally as terrible “A Bad Moms Christmas”, “Daddy’s Home Two”, whose story takes place during Christmas as well, arrives weeks before the Holiday Season even begins, and is likely to fizzle out long before anyone puts up their Christmas tree.  There is absolutely nothing here to like, unless you’re into self torture and mental mutilation.

     Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg return as Brad and Dusty, two “Co-Dads” who have made nice after the events of the first film that saw the two try and best each other by lavishing the children in the middle of it all with expensive gifts and experiences designed to win them over.  In a curiously pretentious move, the story begins as if the audience would actually remember anything about the characters involved and proceeds with the notion that these characters are already fully developed, which is obviously not the case.  Truth is, even if you had time to burn and watched the first film in the last few weeks, you wouldn't know anything about these characters other than the fact that both Brad and Dusty preside over blended families, functioning as the step father and father to the kids in the film.  And yes, there are female characters in this film, but they spend every scene in the background and are virtually given nothing to do.  Brad’s wife, Sara (Linda Cardellini), is a side character at best, and Dusty’s wife, Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio), is mute in most scenes, except for when she decides to try her hand at shoplifting.

     As was the case with “A Bad Moms Christmas”, where the mothers of the moms show up and wreak havoc, “Daddy’s Home Two” employs the exact same scenario, only it’s the fathers of Brad and Dusty who show up, played by Mel Gibson and John Lithgow.  In an early scene that takes place at a Christmas tree lot, Gibson, who plays Dusty’s (Wahlberg) obnoxiously chauvinistic and sexist father, Kurt, is hiding behind a row of trees, observing as Brad (Ferrell) gives advice to his young step son on how best to approach a girl he likes.  The scene instantly triggered great memories of Gibson playing narcotics detective Martin Riggs in “Lethal Weapon” and a sequence that also takes place in a Christmas tree lot in which Riggs is undercover making a drug deal that quickly goes south.  Those were certainly the days.  Gibson has now been relegated to roles like this in which he is being asked to essentially play the exact kind of person that all of Hollywood is currently backlashing against.  And nothing he says or does is funny.  Even more puzzling is the fact his character is able to book a spacious high end cabin at a posh ski resort for the entire group just a week before Christmas and everyone just sort of buys into it.  I suppose the filmmakers wanted a different setting this time and needed a dominating character to force the issue.

     My review of the first film pointed out the fact Will Ferrell’s act has completely run out of steam, and there is nothing in this film that will end that trend.  Anders simply conjures up scenarios that put Ferrell into some sort of slapstick peril, whether they actually fit into the story or not.  The entire exercise feels incredibly disjointed, like a bunch of individual sketches cobbled together and forced on us as a whole.  Of course each of these various stunts are designed to get a laugh from the audience, but when you realize nothing makes sense from scene to scene, the prevailing thought is where is all of this going.  If you’re smart, you can figure that out without watching the film.  The third act allows each character to redeem themselves in a sentimental Christmas sort of way in which all previous bad deeds are forgiven in the interest of everyone coming together as one big happy family.  As if we haven’t heard that one before. Yawn.

     For the majority of the film, the endless attempts at various site gags and crude humor fall woefully flat.  You get the idea Anders is trying to have Ferrell channel the bumbling but good hearted nature of Clark Griswold in “Christmas Vacation”, but the one time “Anchorman” has done this act one too many times and the result now just isn't the same as it was ten years ago.  As his fun loving father, Lithgow is admirable but the set up in which he and Brad are supposedly close doesn't make sense when you consider a life changing revelation revealed late in the film.  And the late inclusion of John Cena’s Roger character, who appeared at the end of the first film, has little of the kind of comedic impact he made in a similar role in “Trainwreck”.  The entire exercise is a mess on every imaginable level and seems to be another lame attempt at getting early holiday box office without having to churn out a single ounce of original thought.  GRADE: D-