More Christmas cheer than laugh-out-loud frolics
When Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg paired up to take on a comedy in 2010’s The Other Guys, few would have predicted that a comedy duo of sorts would have been born. Wahlberg, usually known for his work in action thrillers or drama pieces, somehow transitioned seamlessly into the comedy scene and forged a solid partnership with the former Saturday Night Live comedian. That partnership would extend to further comedic grounds with Daddy’s Home, and now a sequel is on the horizon, with added intrigue in the form of Mel Gibson and John Lithgow thrown into the mix for more family frolics and chaos.
Brad (Will Ferrell) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) have finally set aside their differences and forged a partnership in parenting that they refer to as ‘co-parenting’, with their children sharing a healthy amount of time with each. Dusty is helping out with the school parking while Brad drives the school route, and the pair just seem to be getting on better than ever – until the idea of a joint Christmas serves up the arrival of their fathers. Brad’s father Don (John Lithgow) is a happy-go-lucky, chatty type, while Dusty’s father Kurt (Mel Gibson) hasn’t seen his son in years and is prone to abandoning all emotions in favour of a macho image. Needless to say, the fireworks are about to go off for this family Christmas…
Taking a turn for more family-friendly territory, Daddy’s Home 2 is almost a different beast from its predecessor, leaving out any fears of curse words and riotous 15-certificate comedy in favour for much more in the way of Christmas cheer and the notion of the festive season being very much a family occasion. Playing out very much in the framework of a movie such as National Lampoon’s or even Home Alone at times, here we have a movie that plants the slapstick left, right and centre, from a scene featuring a major Christmas lights failure to Will Ferrell once again falling foul and damaging a perfectly good family car. Sure, the elements are there for this to be a success but it all feels too safe.
Now, safe does really come into mind when a comedy casts Mel Gibson in a role that includes him featuring in a family recreation of the birth of Jesus but that’s besides the point; Daddy’s Home 2 leaves the risk-taking to the side this time around and instead opts to be a family-friendly cinema experience that never quite hits the comedic heights we hope for. Sure, the banter between Ferrell and Wahlberg is fun but we can witness that simply from their promotional interviews for the movie, leaving little new for us to witness within the film itself. The addition of Lithgow and Gibson rarely do much to bolster the comedy either; Gibson often laughs his way through the closure of some of the film’s pay-off moments (almost willing us on to join him) and the Third Rock From The Sun star is wasted in favour of poor snowball attack moments and a weak divorce sub-plot.
That said, while the comedy isn’t top notch, the feeling you get once exiting Daddy’s Home 2 is one of sheer festive joy. From the beautiful winter lodge setting to the closing third that takes part in a cinema that oozes Christmas spirit – and a brilliant seasonal offering from Liam Neeson! It’s a finale that wraps it all up in a neat, tidy and uplifting Christmas bow but isn’t quite enough to save us from the mediocrity that unfolded prior. Daddy’s Home 2 is essentially a Christmas caper that packs more festive cheer than laugh-out-loud frolics.