The holidays are here and we have already received our second Christmas themed movie of 2017. Following the footsteps of the female driven sequel “A Bad Moms Christmas” we get the male driven “Daddy’s Home 2”, a follow up to the 2015 comedy hit that changes things up by utilizing the Christmas season as the primary backdrop of the story. Unlike the “Bad Moms” sequel however, “Daddy’s Home 2” is more of a mishmash of clichés, cheap advertising, and lackluster laughs. Still, it has its moments that make it a fun, if forgettable, holiday trip. Here’s my review!
“Daddy’s Home 2” follows the original film that saw Will Ferrell’s Brad Whitaker and Mark Wahlberg’s Dusty Mayron go head to head. Now the two are co-dads who come together to give their children and stepchildren a united family Christmas. However things get interesting with Brad’s over affectionate father Don, played by John Lithgow, and Dusty’s neglectful macho father Kurt, played by Mel Gibson, join them for the holiday celebration. As the family tries to put together a great Christmas hijinx ensue forcing Brad and Dusty to face more struggles of step fatherhood while also coming to grips with demons associated with their own fathers in the process.
It must be said to start off that “Daddy’s Home 2” is a superior sequel. It’s funnier, more watchable, and more fun overall than its predecessor, but that doesn’t make it a good movie considering the first film left very little to enjoy in and of itself. “Daddy’s Home 2” has a few moments that will make you laugh and a decent cast backing it up, but here’s the problem. Anything and everything worth enjoying about this film has been done better in past movies and everything that is completely unenjoyable about it is more annoying than it has ever been, yet somehow the movie still manages to be a decently fun ride to some extent.
Stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg continue to be an oddly good team for a pair of mismatched dads. They successfully bring their individual characters back to life after two years and they’re fun to watch. However they might actually be outshined by the addition of two new characters, the grandpas.
John Lithgow and Mel Gibson act circles around the two male leads, bringing their experience and charisma to the screen to add a whole new sense of energy to the film. Gibson specifically is actually a joy to watch and he feels like he is truly enjoying his time in the spotlight. Say what you want about him (I personally find him as a person a pretty vile man) but as an actor Gibson is a talent and shows a new level of his abilities with this role.
I’m not spending a whole lot on the actors for this review simply because that’s pretty much all there is to say about them. The real item of discussion here is whether or not this movie succeeds as a Christmas comedy and to some extent yes. The first “Daddy’s Home” seemed to lack direction. It borrowed from Ferrell’s past works and just kind of threw things at the audience to see what would stick. This second movie however knows exactly what it wants to be. Setting the second film at Christmas allows for a practical way to bring new characters, like the grandfathers, into the mix and lends itself well to the family oriented themes of the film. I think that helped make this a superior sequel. It feels more fun and joyful just because the themes work well with the setting. The problem is the filmmakers didn’t really do anything creative with that premise.
“Daddy’s Home 2” tries to capture the same hilarity of previous comedic holiday movie, but it’s nothing original by any means. We get moments where typical holiday themed chores like cutting down a tree or rigging up the lights are transformed into attempted comedic moments, but honestly I’ve seen much better. These moments made me laugh but only because they reminded me of how funny other movies were. Mostly I kept flashing to “Christmas Vacation” all throughout the movie as every holiday-themed joke seemed to be a modernized version of hilarious moments from that far superior film.
There’s also an attempt to add in some more universally relatable comedy, but even this relies on clichés. I have to say though this might be the first film I’ve ever seen to truly own a joke about dad’s always wanting control of the thermostat. Almost every joke in this movie is predictable and some do bring a chuckle. Heck some even bring a good belly laugh. They’re just not original or creative which is a shame because this film made some great strides compared to the original movie.
Now I get to the biggest sin of the film. It’s a massive advertising tool and it’s a shameless one at that. The first film contained its share of obvious forced advertising. This movie contains A LOT more and while it was pretty cool and meta to be watching a film shot in a Showcase Cinema while I myself was actually sitting in a Showcase Cinema, it felt pretty ridiculous. The entire movie is filled with enough random and out of place product placement to make Michael Bay drool and the final act specifically is so out of control and unnecessarily filled with forced marketing that it spoils the entire movie basically. It was painful to see how this movie just delved into the most shameless cliché-driven, advertising laden finale of the year and ironically this was one of the funniest parts of the film, but for the wrong reasons. It’s a true “are you kidding me with this” moment that felt unnecessary to me, even if it did offer a heartwarming conclusion to the overall story.
So basically “Daddy’s Home 2” is just what I expected. It’s a bland comedy that had its moments and relies too much on clichés and ad placement to really earn any credit from me…yet it actually does get a bit of credit because it works as a holiday movie and is far superior to the first film which I just despised. Despite the fact that it makes some strides “Daddy’s Home 2” borrows too much from far better films and actually seems to try too hard at times to make itself relevant. Whereas “A Bad Moms Christmas” gave us a fun and enjoyable, if shameless, Christmas comedy “Daddy’s Home 2” borrows from the bottom of the barrel and tries to be so much better than it really is. It’s funny, but not hilarious. It’s watchable, but not memorable. It’s just kind of there. Even great comedic turns by a pair of Hollywood legends couldn’t turn this film around.