Synopsis: A mild-mannered radio executive strives to become the best stepdad to his wife’s two children, but complications ensue when their freewheeling and freeloading real father arrives, forcing him to compete for the affection of the kids.
Stars: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini, Thomas Haden Church, Hannibal Buress
Director: Sean Anders
Running Length: 96 minutes
TMMM Score: (3/10)
Review: The last time stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg teamed up was in 2010’s The Other Guys, a better than average twist to the cop/buddy movie that played nicely into the strengths of its leads. Neither actor was required to travel too far out of their comfort zone and instead of it coming off as lazy, it felt like a cohesive mix of actors putting a shine on characters they could play in their sleep.
For a time there was talk of a sequel to The Other Guys and while that still could happen sometime in the future, Ferrell and Wahlberg must have been itching to work together again and signed on for Daddy’s Home in the hopes of reclaiming some of that good will directed toward them in their previous collaboration. Well…this Daddy has issues and it never rises above a mediocre comedy irresponsibly trying to lure families into ponying up their holiday dough to see this unpleasant gunk.
Ferrell (The Campaign) is a benign lump of good-nature as man trying to be the best stepdad he can be to his two new stepchildren. Unable to have children due to an unfortunate dental accident (just one of the precious few inspired bits the film has to offer), he’s the superman of stepfathers whether staying on top of school activities or making sure the kids are fed.
That Ferrell’s character has been met, wooed, and wed his wife (Linda Cardellini, Avengers: Age of Ultron) without ever meeting the father of her children seems pretty hard to swallow…but it’s a paltry oversight of a set-up for the first time old dad (Wahlberg, Ted) meets new dad after he decides to enter back into their lives, causing a host of troubles along the way. Wahlberg is the motorcycle riding tough guy with pecs that pop mighty unhappy his wife has moved on without him…so unhappy that he spends the majority of the movie trying to ruin Ferrell’s career and relationship with his new family.
It’s here the movie starts to rack up a host of losing points in my book. The plot reads like the logline of a domestic thriller from the ‘90s and Wahlberg comes off as a middle-aged version of the crazed psycho he played in 1996’s Fear. Ferrell and Wahlberg engage in a battle of the dads to see who can come away with the most affection, resorting to buying love rather than trying to earn it. The ruse for hoots results in a genuine discomfort in the viewer as we watch all of this nastiness play out in front of the children.
Co-written by director Sean Anders (who also penned We’re the Millers), it’s a cheap looking film too…with special effects that appear like first passes inserted as placeholders. Anders and his co-writers don’t bother to flesh out any character other than Ferrell and Wahlberg, leaving Cardellini in the dust and wasting valuable time on irksome supporting characters like Thomas Haden Church (We Bought a Zoo, looking more and more like that vein on your neck that bulges when you get angry) and the completely useless Hannibal Buress (Sleepwalk with Me). Buress gained notoriety recently for unknowingly igniting the Bill Cosby scandal during his comedy act…he should be more proud of that than anything he’s doing here.
Are there a few laughs to be had? Sure…and I laughed at them. However, I kept coming back to fact that the movie relies on laughs that come at the expense not just of manly pride but the respect of the impressionable minds both men should be trying to be role models for.