By: BabyRuth (Three Beers) –
Last week, I saw A Bad Moms Christmas –an unnecessary sequel to a decent but forgettable comedy that reunites the central cast in the days leading up to Christmas and adds older, well-known actors as the parents of the main characters to disrupt the holiday cheer.
This week, I saw Daddy’s Home 2 – an unnecessary sequel to a decent but forgettable comedy that reunites the central cast in the days leading up to Christmas and adds older, well-known actors as the parents of the main characters to disrupt the holiday cheer.
Former rivals Brad (Will Farrell) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) are now BFFs and “co-dads,” working in harmony while splitting up fatherly duties for Dusty’s children with his ex/Brad’s wife Sara (Linda Cardellini). In addition to those kids: Dylan (Owen Vaccaro) and Megan (Scarlett Estevez), there’s also Griffy (Brad and Sara’s baby) as well as Adrianna (Didi Costine), Dusty’s new wife Karen’s (Alessandra Ambrosio) daughter with ex-husband Roger (John Cena). Got it? I think I did. I may have missed a kid… You know, they really should have passed out charts along with the movie tickets.
Brad and Dusty are so simpatico that they decide to have one big Christmas for everyone rather than separate celebrations . Their big Christmas gets even bigger when Dusty’s estranged garbage father Kurt (Mel Gibson) turns up uninvited. Brad’s dad Jonah (John Lithgow) is also on board for the festivities, though he is most definitely invited as that father and son pair are pretty much the furthest thing from estranged.
And so we’re off. It’s time to deck the goddamn halls…again.
In the Christmas sequel showdown between the [Bad] Moms and the Daddies, Daddy’s Home 2 easily comes out on top. It’s the much better movie of the two and unlike Moms, has several laugh-out-loud moments and didn’t make me hate Christmas. The writing is superior in that there was actual thought and effort put into it and the characters and situations are (slightly) more grounded in reality. It’s never mean-spirited—rare in comedies these days (as well as a deviation from the first movie)—and doesn’t rely on crude body humor or lazy vulgarity. There’s not one fart joke and no one gets hit in the balls. This is progress people!
That’s not to say it isn’t ridiculously silly and doesn’t often lay on the pratfalls for easy laughs. With Ferrell involved there’s plenty of physical comedy. Lithgow takes part too, as Brad’s equally accident-prone father. The slapstick gets tiresome after a while, as the funniest bits are dialogue-based. Fortunately, there are many cases of this including an instant classic scene of the four fathers discussing thermostat etiquette (trust me, it’s funnier than that sounds).
The naïve but lovable character of Brad is what Ferrell does best (being set at Christmastime, there’s even a bit of Buddy the Elf in there) and it’s nice to see him back in his sweet spot after this summer’s painfully unfunny The House. John Lithgow couldn’t be more perfectly cast as his ultra-sensitive and affectionate father.
The addition of Mel-hey at least I’m not as bad as Kevin Spacey-Gibson may leave a bad taste in some viewers’ mouths, but casting him as a sadistic, misogynistic prick was kind of a genius move. If he’s going to be welcomed back into the mainstream, this is really the only kind of role that makes sense.
One of the best parts of Daddy’s Home was John Cena’s cameo as Dusty’s new rival, Roger. The casting was inspired and a fun payoff, especially for WWE fans to see the “Marky Mark” jokes of Cena’s early rapper persona come full-circle with the two finally sharing a screen at the conclusion of the first movie. I was hoping there would be more of Cena in this sequel, but he does have a few pretty great scenes once he finally shows up in the last act (though I’m a little disappointed that his big, epic showdown with Walhberg’s character was a snowball fight and not a rap battle. I mean, come on writers.)
The kids, who are given subplots of their own, hold their own opposite the older leads, the standout being Scarlett Estevez, who gets some of the biggest laughs of the whole movie.
But overall, it’s Wahlberg and Ferrell’s chemistry that makes Daddy’s Home 2 work as well as it does. They were great as arch-nemeses in the first film and even better as a team in this one. Even when the “harbors are opened” and the two spar, it’s evident they still care for and respect each other. It’s like watching family members argue.
Of course there’s a touch of family drama mixed in, required, yes, but effective, slow-building to the eventual pot boiling over and subsequent everybody-makes-up-happy-ending. But that moment, even as over-the-top absurd as it is (I won’t ruin it but pay attention to an early flashback), feels earned and rewarding rather than abruptly slapped on.
In addition to experiencing déjà vu from A Bad Moms Christmas, much of Daddy’s Home 2 felt very, very familiar.
Doofy, accident-prone father? Christmas decoration destruction? Sledding mishaps? Going into the forest to find and cut down that perfect but much too large tree? Hmm.
Well, I guess if you’re going to steal borrow, borrow from the best.
As in A Bad Moms Christmas (I know I’m making a lot of comparisons, but these are essentially the SAME, exact movie right down to the “X Days until Christmas” title cards and characters heading to Las Vegas for New Year’s which makes me wonder if there is a crossover movie on the horizon) supporting characters of the opposite sex are relegated to set dressing. Linda Cardellini doesn’t get to do much more than react to the men’s antics, while Alessandra Ambrosio barely has two lines of dialogue, though she does get a bit fleshed out when it’s revealed that she’s a freaking criminal! To the film’s credit, it does pass the Bechdel Test, when the two characters have a discussion about why shoplifting is wrong. Welp, we can’t have everything.
“Hi!!! I’m here if you need me. Yes? No? Oh…Well, okay, I’ll go stand in the background.”
Despite its flaws, this movie was better than it had any right to be. Maybe my expectations were extremely low after suffering through the dumpster fire that was A Bad Moms Christmas, but I actually found Daddy’s Home 2 quite funny and charming and enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.
Daddy’s Home 2 (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever anyone uses the term “co-dads”
Take a Drink: for every “countdown to Christmas” title card
Take a Drink: whenever Mel Gibson’s character says something offensive (small sips)
Take a Drink: whenever Brad is injured
Take a Drink: whenever Jonah is injured
Take a Drink: whenever Griffy is forgotten
Take a Drink: whenever anyone adjusts the thermostat
Do a Shot: for every on the lips kiss between a father and son
Do a Shot: for every cameo (listen carefully- one is a voice)
P.S. : Dear Hollywood, Please, puhleeeessse, make Missle Tow.