Let’s get it out of the way; Daddy’s Home 2 is decidedly average if not poor. That being said, for a festive sequel to another so-so festive film, ‘decidedly average if not poor’ is probably the best anyone could hope for.
In a male regurgitation of A Bad Moms Christmas, co-dads Brad (Will Ferrell) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) are planning their first together Christmas when their fathers decide to gatecrash for the holidays. What follows is the typical tirade of absurd comedy that Ferrell in particular has become known for, with a cringe worthy but harmless sing along too.
Daddy number one is Dusty’s estranged father Kurt (Mel Gibson), which could have been a problem. To hear an actor who has been charged with domestic abuse hook up with single mothers and talk about Brad’s “total lack of masculinity” is unsettling. Much of the film however is Dusty and the others criticising Kurt’s prehistoric views about manhood and how to treat women, so it is a casting choice that writers Sean Anders and John Morris were thankfully aware of.
Brad’s father Don (John Linlithgow) on the other hand is the cuddliest and most harmless bumblebee of a man imaginable. He enjoys a very affectionate relationship with Brad, the total antithesis of the stone-hearted Kurt. He is a character that the audience falls in love with for most of the film and his contrast with Kurt creates a running theme of how men should behave.
This results in a series of tense scenarios between the dads and grandads, not helped by the return of Dusty’s nemesis Roger (John Cena). None of them solely function as male stereotypes which adds believability to the situation, and the audience genuinely cares about what happens to them. If Daddy’s Home 2 was a full-on family drama and not a comedy, chances are it would actually be good.
Sadly, the majority of the humour falls flatter than Dusty’s stepdaughter when she falls face first onto some hay (one of the funnier moments). Kurt’s forced, wheezing guffaws are all the audience will manage too in the face of such ridiculous incidents and below par examples of being funny. Gibson actually gets the best one liner when he gets invited to improvisation class, which is still not going to set anyone off in hysterics.
While Ferrell in a pair of Y-fronts may make children laugh, the same cannot be said for the parents. The dramatic aspects and the father-son relationships are engaging, but those with a burning desire to leave with a smile on their face should go to the next screen and endlessly mock Justice League instead.
Film reviewed at Cineworld, Edinburgh.
Image: Eva Rinaldi