Review: ‘Daddy’s Home 2’ Starring Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell, John Lithgow, and Mel Gibson

It’s clear Mark Wahlberg and Will Farrell like working together.  Farrell always plays, well, Farrell, which works well opposite the hard-edged Wahlberg.  Their first film together was The Other Guys, where they played two JV cops tasked with stepping up to the big leagues to help solve a crime of gigantic proportions.  The duo seemed to like working well together, so they teamed up again for Daddy’s Home, which proved to be Farrell’s highest grossing live-action film, making more than $242 million worldwide.  In the first film, Brad Whitaker (Farrell) played step-dad to his wife Sara’s (Linda Cardellini) two children.  Things seem to be going well for the new family, until Sara’s ex-husband Dusty (Wahlberg) comes back into the picture, forcing Brad to engage in a who’s a better daddy/dick-measuring contest for the children’s attention and affection.  The film did have its moments of hilariousness thanks to the two leads working well off of each other.  By the end, an understanding was made, and the two decide to be co-dads and help raise the children as a blended family.

Now as a step-dad myself, stuff like this are always interesting and fascinating to watch.  The first film dialed it up to 11 with Farrell doing Farrell the whole movie, so it’s no surprise that a sequel would be commissioned.  However, would the sequel, Daddy’s Home 2 get a case of “sequelitis” (as most comedy sequels do) and be as bland and forgettable as The Hangover 2 by not bringing anything new to the table?

Well… yes, and no.

Brad and Dusty start off a well-oiled machine and are both up to the task of being “co-dads” for the children.  They coordinate not only drop-offs and pickups for the children, but they work collectively on homework, PTA meetings and all the stuff dads do.  They seem to have some harmony working together, much like Wahlberg and Farrell seem to do in real life.  They try their hardest to accommodate each other and they come up with the idea of a blended family Christmas.  Guess who else is going to be joining them?  Their own dads.

Brad’s father Don (John Lithgow) is a spitting image of him.  He’s easy going, conflict-free (except when it comes to the thermostat), and he and Brad endlessly plant kisses on each other’s lips in ways that make even the most lovingly close family feel creepy.  He’s just full of a lot of love I guess.  Dusty’s father Don (Mel Gibson), is the exact opposite.  Don’s an ex-astronaut alpha male, who is clearly a lady killer and borderline a psychological terrorist to his son, and doesn’t mind speaking his mind in colorful language, even if it’s to his grandkids.  Both Lithgow and Gibson perfectly play their archetypes.  Gibson, who has apparently completely rehabbed himself in the eyes of Hollywood, looks to be thoroughly enjoying himself in this role.  If Marvel ever decides to retire Tom Hiddleston from the role of Loki (and decided to age the character up a little), Gibson would play the trickster God perfectly based on his performance in this movie as he perfectly pits Brad and Dusty against each other as he’s disgusted with the idea of co-dads.

Don joining the holiday was a surprise to everyone, so they decide to rent an Air B&B (who knew you could book one so quickly?) and get a house out in the snowy mountains to spend Christmas together.  Even though they have a big house, it gets crowded quickly with everyone going at each other’s throats soon enough.  As stated, Gibson does a good job sowing the seeds of discontent and peels the layers off the facade of a happy blended family.

Much of the hijinks this time around is an even more physical comedy as there are snowball fights, tubing violently down a mountain, and even an accidental shooting.  While the film focuses on the four guys, it does it at the detriment of the ladies in the film.  Cardellini doesn’t have much to do except try and work off of Farrell and Wahlberg.  Dusty’s wife Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio) has even less to do as she spends much of the movie simply writing in her book, which doesn’t have a great payoff once you see why as it feels forced and unearned.  Karen’s ex-husband Roger (John Cena, who should get more roles than he has as his comedic timing is great) returns as well and works will for his brief role towards the end of the film.  While the film has its moments of hilarity thanks to the foursome, the ending feels extremely forced and completely unearned.  It could have gone another way but once it tries to resolve things, it places emphasis on trying to wrap things up in a nice, neat Christmas bow, which causes the film to come to a complete screeching halt.  There’s bound to be a sequel for this.  Let’s just pick a different holiday next time.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5