Synopsis: Daddy’s Home follows a mild-mannered radio executive (Will Ferrell) who strives to become the best stepdad to his wife’s two children, but complications ensue when their freewheeling and freeloading real father (Mark Wahlberg) arrives, forcing him to compete for the affection of the kids.
Release Date: December 25, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Will Farrell (Get Hard) and Mark Wahlberg (The Gambler) have paired up again following their successful comedy The Other Guys for Daddy’s Home, a movie that doesn’t quite know whom to appeal to. The concept, which pits Ferrell’s stepfather Brad against biological father Dusty (Wahlberg) in a competition for their kids’ affections is clever on the surface, but the execution is sorely lacking. This could have easily been an insightful comedy with a lot to say about the nature of modern families, but instead it’s just a generic Will Ferrell comedy that’s unbelievably silly and needlessly trite.
Ferrell has locked into a formula that presumably works wonders for him, but in Daddy’s Home it’s likely to become tired for a lot of people. His shtick as the straight man that gets caught in extraordinary circumstances, like riding a Harley motorcycle through a house or shooting a half-court shot while drunk, doesn’t have the same appeal that it used to. Sure, there are moments of humor in Daddy’s Home, but they are not enough to make the film worth recommending.
Casting and direction in the film is also a major issue, with some characters and sequences falling extremely flat. Wahlberg’s Dusty, for example, is supposed to be the antithesis to Ferrell’s straight-laced Brad but he’s actually more of the straight man. Dusty is just there to be a riff on the same characters we’ve seen Wahlberg play before, while Ferrell portrays Brad as inordinately insecure. But the real misfire is Hannibal Buress’ Griff, a plumber who ends up staying in Brad’s house for what feels like no other reason than to be a source of awkward interactions for Ferrell’s character. As a one-off joke, the inclusion of Griff might have been fine, but the fact that he’s in so much of the movie only speaks to how out of touch the film is with its audience. The movie beats certain drums so hard that it becomes a challenge to find the specific comedic plot points funny; they become annoying after a while.
Even so, there are moments where Daddy’s Home does skirt against something unique, and in the process makes a few insightful points about the nature of stepparents. It’s too bad much of the film is spent with goofy set pieces and pointless characters that the real intriguing bits don’t get to shine through, but that’s par for the course in a Ferrell comedy. The set-up has all the potential in the world, but by the end it becomes clear that Ferrell and his crew merely want to play it safe. This film, like many of his latest comedies, is a calculated product manufactured to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
The average viewer will likely come away from Daddy’s Home feeling as if they wasted their time. The jokes that land are few and far between and the physical gags are too over the top to elicit anything but a few eye rolls. The Ferrell crowd will be slightly pleased, but the rest are better served spending their time elsewhere.
It sounds like beating a dead horse, but recommending the comedy of a Will Ferrell movie ultimately comes down to a simple question: How do you feel about the Will Ferrell brand? If your tolerance ranks somewhere in the high end — i.e. you still find his lesser films endlessly rewatchable — then Daddy’s Home will hit a sweet spot for you. However, if Ferrell is in the least bit intolerable to you, especially when he’s working within his usual wheelhouse, then the film will not change your mind. This is Will Ferrell doing what Will Ferrell does, like it or not.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Sean Anders
- Screenwriter(s): Brian BurnsSean AndersJohn Morris
- Cast: Will Ferrell (Brad Whitaker)Mark Wahlberg (Dusty Mayron) Linda Cardellini (Sara)Thomas Haden Church (Leo Holt)
- Cinematographer: Julio Macat
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Michael Andrews
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA