This year has been a great movie year, so many unexpected highs and very few legitimately crushing lows (despite what the unnecessarily hate-filled comment sections of many places say). So good a year in fact, that the bad films of 2017 have made an extra effort to be bad, films like King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Fifty Shades Darker and the magnum opus of woeful The Emoji Movie. Well, now we can add another name to the pile in this comedy sequel to the unmemorable 2015 hit Daddy’s Home.
Daddy’s Home 2, like this year’s practically as bad A Bad Moms Christmas, adds more parents to the fray but subtracts all of the laughter. To put it in perspective, the best gag in this cruelly unfunny little film is about a thermostat, which is revealing of the level we are on here. The concept is achingly familiar, as the last film’s warring co-dads Brad (Will Ferrell) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) are getting on the right page but in considering the first ever all-together family Christmas, their own respective dads Don (John Lithgow) and Kurt (Mel Gibson) arrive on the scene and tensions start bubbling. If the first film used the concept to the max, this sequel takes said concept by the nostrils and drags it through the winter wilderness kicking and screaming for 100 painful minutes. Daddy’s Home 2 is unexpectedly dreadful but not in a watchable way, in a very odd and demoralising way.
We can forgive the festive comedy clichés for a cast this promising but the script is rife with peculiar decisions and written characters so strange, warped or downright hateful that you just cannot realistically or morally accept or connect with them. From a thankfully interrupted dead hooker gag to a turkey shoot scene and a laugh at the expense of quasi-incestuous child love, this is an uncomfortable and vastly unfunny watch that lacks human warmth and instead burrows the desperate depths for laughs. An overstretched premise is one thing but when you have a script so lumbering and mean-spirited it is hard to find reasons to stick with it.
The cast try but cannot make characters like these shine. We know that Ferrell and Wahlberg have great comic chemistry, both have appeared in some brilliant comedy films and The Other Guys harnessed the pairings onscreen bond perfectly. However here they both have nothing to work with, as Ferrell’s part is just an empty man child and Wahlberg is required to be a tough person, their rivalry just has no moments of fresh comic zing, while each of their onscreen partners – the first film’s Linda Cardellini and Alessandra Ambrosio – are pathetically thin. Meanwhile new (grand)dads add little flavour to proceedings with Mel Gibson’s part appearing like a misjudged joke by the writers at the expense of his controversial past and John Lithgow is left with practically the only emotional moments the film has to offer…but even he can’t save this turkey. Oh and then John Cena turns up as one of the fathers to the mostly dislikable children to add another dad to the mix late in the game and the film does the remarkable task of removing the WWE Star of his effortless charisma, with a character that seems like a mere afterthought.
The rote scenes that comprise Daddy’s Home 2 are indicative of the kinds of festive conflict inherent in the genre, as is the beige soundtrack (save for a rendition of “Do They No it’s Christmas” by the cast) and even when the end speaks of family togetherness, the wonky and ill-judged 90 minutes before it render that conclusion as just another bizarre decision made. Daddy’s Home 2 should have been at least some fun but it is a forced, cash hungry and shockingly morally unsettling film that gives people a pass for being gits. Cynically unfunny and perturbing to sit through.