Co-parenting is never easy. Now throw your wife’s ex-husband, his new partner, and her child into the mix. This is the life of Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell), when his stepchildren’s hunky biological father Dusty (Mark Wahlberg), bursts back into town in the 2015 prequel, Daddy’s Home.
In Daddy’s Home 2, Brad and Dusty are adamant to join forces so their children can spend Christmas with the entire family, in place of the usual back-and-forth scenario that children of divorce are typically forced to endure.
This entangled family dynamic is pushed to a further point of conflict when Dusty’s overly critical macho father, Kurt (Mel Gibson), and Brad’s nauseatingly affectionate old man, Don (John Lithgow), both decide to join the family for Christmas.
Mortified by the effeminate relationship between Brad and his father, Grandpa Kurt attempts to sabotage Dusty’s newfound friendship with Brad by shacking the entire family into a cabin for the holidays. It’s during this tumultuous getaway that the men soon discover they each hold conflicting ideas on fatherhood.
Typically, the light-hearted, holiday season, family comedy is a genre that’s fuelled by low expectations in terms of high-caliber entertainment. This film, however, was pleasantly surprising. Though it might not be the biggest comedy of the year, Ferrell and Wahlberg shine in their element, and play to their comedic strengths.
Good use of character dynamics helps to deploy a handful of laughs consistently throughout the film. Ferrell and Lithgow’s excessively tender and nurturing characteristics are in direct contrast to Gibson’s archaic and dominating personality, while Wahlberg finds himself dancing in the crossfire between both manifestations of masculine identity.
Dysfunctional parent-child relationships, particularly between father and son, appear to be the central themes that underscore the narrative with important and relevant questions, such what it means to be a father in the twenty-first century. The conflicting point of views explored through each of the four father figures is executed reasonably well and contribute to a large part of the reason why the film is so enjoyable to watch.
With that same token of appreciation, however, it’s worth mentioning that while the four primary male characters function as the lifeblood of this family comedy, the narrative leaves a somewhat awkward gap for the two mothers (played by the talented Linda Cardellini and Victoria’s Secret model, Alessandra Ambrosio) to fill.
Despite enough screen-time to construct witty banter with potential to enhance the comedic dynamic of their male counterparts, the audience is left to witness tiny clusters of cheesy, head-scratching moments between the two leading females.
Daddy’s Home 2 is an amusing PG-rated flick to kick off your Christmas with the entire family. Whether or not it panders to your sense of humour, by the end of the film you can appreciate the spirit in which the story is told; an optimistic comedy for children who long for a Christmas with both their original and additional family members – no matter how conflicting or dysfunctional those families may be.
Mel Gibson plays Mark Wahlberg’s father. In reality, Gibson is only 15 years older than Wahlberg.