Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Here’s something I never thought I’d say: “Daddy’s Home 2” is actually funny. Maybe it’s because I went in with low expectations. Because, if you look back on my review of the 2015 original, my take was very unkind. In fact, I really loathed the Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg comedy, and it even found a spot on my worst movies of the year list. Despite all those notions, somehow, in a magical turn of events, it’s sequel has turned itself around and did what any comedy should do: it made me laugh.
Returning director Sean Anders is employing the same tactics that “A Bad Moms Christmas” failed to capitalize on just a week ago. They enlist in the grandparents to add spice and energy to the dynamic. And when you have Mel Gibson and John Lithgow hamming it up as the grandfathers respectively, it’s hard not to like this movie. Ferrell and Wahlberg are back in the driver seats, this time taking their place as “co-dads,” sharing the same duties, albeit, still challenging themselves whenever they can. The banter, at least for me, didn’t work so well the first time around because it felt cheap and mean spirited. Here, since they’re being loving fathers, the jokes land because we care.
Naturally, it’s Christmas time again and with that comes it’s fair share of hardships. On top of the decorating, shopping, and attending school holiday functions - Dusty and Brad’s fathers (Gibson and Lithgow) are in town for the holiday. Gibson, who hasn’t been in a comedy since 2000’s “What Women Want,” has a buck load of fun playing Kurt Mayron, a man with extreme views of how his son, Dusty, should be teaching his kids. And when he sees the unorthodox Brad stepping in on his territory, it brings up repressed memories from Dusty’s childhood. In contrast, Brad’s father (Lithgow) is almost the exact opposite, a bubbly and chatty fellow, who open mouth kisses his son every time he see’s him. Naturally, the wives take a back seat to all the fuss (Linda Cardellini and Alessandra Ambrosio really don’t do much other than gawk at the shenanigans on display). And some of the sexulization of the younger kids, and cruder comments, steep “Daddy’s Home 2” back into the reality of it’s predecessor. But the slapstick humor, is almost gut busting.
Sure, Will Ferrell getting hit in the face numerous times get’s old after about the 13th time, but those first four, really had me going. In that regard, at least Anders keeps things consistent. Each comedic sequence finds a way to build, and be relatable to its core demographic. For example, a scene where the fathers all huddle up in the hallway dissecting how Dusty's stepdaughter changes the thermostat - “It’s a sacred thing!” Brad yells - feels authentic. Another fun moment has Brad giving his son “the talk” about girls, and let’s just say him and Kurt have slightly different views on how to handle the ladies. No worries though, the payoff is terrific. And just when things start to feel a little dry, John Cena shows up to save the day and infuse more life into the picture.
On the surface, some will find many faults in the film’s predictable narrative structure, but sometimes you just need to laugh and be entertained. “Daddy’s Home 2” has enough humor to sustain the family, more so older kids than younger ones. You’ll likely find yourself in a theater jam-packed with audience members eager to laugh, and that’s ok. Some comedic moments are so tasteless, I didn’t want to laugh, and I knew I shouldn’t, but I did. I could be throwing my credibility on the line, but for a sequel that had no prayer of being this good, “Daddy’s Home 2” hits it out of the park. B