Daddy’s Home 2 (2017) Review

This time, co-dads Brad (Will Ferrell) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) have to deal with their respective fathers (John Lithgow, Mel Gibson) during the Christmas holidays.

Two years ago, the first Daddy’s Home was released during the height of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December. But the high-concept “stepdad vs. biological dad” comedy surprisingly held on well enough to rake a sizable chunk of money at the worldwide box-office, grossing at a healthy US$242.8 million against a US$69 million budget. Despite its financial success, the movie itself was pretty much an uninspired comedy albeit the high-concept premise and the hilarious chemistry between Will Farrell and Mark Wahlberg.

And yet, here we are: an inevitable sequel has arrived. Both Farrell and Wahlberg reprised their roles, with Sean Anders returning to write and direct as well. The “stepdad vs. biological dad” premise is still there and to justify the common rule of a sequel, Daddy’s Home 2 includes two granddads featuring Mel Gibson and John Lithgow. Hey, the more the merrier, right?

Except watching this sequel doesn’t make me feel merrier. Sure, it’s not every day we get to see recognisable actors like Will Farrell, Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson and John Lithgow sharing the same screen together. It should have been something worthwhile. But once again, writer-director Sean Anders botches the considerable talents that he has at his disposal. Will Farrell’s signature man-child antics are getting old and at times, annoying. Mark Wahlberg’s macho dad attitude is pretty much what we saw him before in the first movie, only less effective the second time around. It’s nice to see Mel Gibson back in the comedy genre for a change. Frankly, he shares a decent chemistry with John Lithgow. It’s just too bad Anders’ banal, sitcom-variety script defeats them both to do better.

As for the supporting actors, both Linda Cardellini and Alessandra Ambrosio are largely relegated to thankless roles. John Cena, who is featured late in the movie’s third act, does show some potential in the comedy role albeit his minor appearance.

As for the jokes, they are basically more or less the same. For instance, the elaborate out-of-control snowplough sequence is a rehash of — you guessed it — an out-of-control motorcycle sequence seen in the first movie. Other times, the humour tends to fall flat and the physical gags often miss the mark. Anders even attempts to mix things up by dedicating the entire third act set in the shopping mall with a feel-good Christmas spirit, in which he injects the theme of togetherness and even a sing-a-long moment where the characters take part in Band Aid’s “Don’t They Know It’s Christmas”. While I get the intention that Anders tries to display here, the result induces cringe than feeling inspired. Not to mention it feels mawkish.

Overall, Daddy’s Home 2 is a missed opportunity. Given the talented cast involved here, Anders could have done better than just stuffing them into a run-of-the-mill family comedy.

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