I’m a self-confessed fan of Will Ferrell, but let’s be honest, he hasn’t been on the best run lately. His last couple films have started swaying towards facepalm-territory, with the humour taking a turn for the worst, trying too hard to be funny and obnoxiously obtuse for the sake of a laugh. And most of the time, the films don’t even achieve that.
So when we saw Ferrell was teaming up with Mark Wahlberg once again for Daddy’s Home, we hoped that the brilliant chemistry seen in The Other Guys (one of Ferrell’s most overlooked comedic outings) would be recreated, but is this family comedy about a step-father / father conflict worth visiting the cinema for?
Short answer: no.
Heartbreakingly, the film doesn’t redeem or capitalise on the hilarious dynamic between the two polarising actors; even pitting them against one another doesn’t manage to bring out the comedy in one another. The film hits all the usual beats you can expect from the genre, but reduces a great cast (including the usually solid Linda Cardellini) to over an hour of terrible slapstick gags that would make Adam Sandler blush.
Ferrell delivers his expected over the top reactions to things, shouting and acting genuinely frustrated at circumferential disasters, which can be funny, but they’re usually bookended by physical mishaps (riding a motorbike into a house, being electrocuted etc) that are even worse due to the use of substandard CGI, even for the comedy genre.
Wahlberg does his usual-tough-guy stereotype of himself, and he has the odd funny moment, but what made him so likeable in The Other Guys was his secret soft-side and anxiety which hid under his masculine facade. There’s nothing to like with this particular character and what you see is what you get, making the casting of Wahlberg largely underutilised.
Making it even worse is the completely unnecessary supporting cast. Comedian Hannibal Buress is a tacked-on addition to the ensemble, who provides no real relief for the audience or point to the story. It’s almost as if the casting director lost and owed Buress a favour.
One thing Daddy’s Home does right is that it makes fun of the tropes of the genre. Mocking the cliché dialogue of the emotional moments, and even overemphasising the product placement in the movie (which could’ve been unintentional, but it’s so blatant it has to be a joke, surely?).
Consider it a predictable movie with flashes of unpredictability, one that actually coaxes some early laughs with satirical wit, but then will leave you deeply sighing with pure boredom towards the end.