Safe And A Little Lame: Our Review of ‘Daddy’s Home’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - December 25, 2015
Safe And A Little Lame: Our Review of ‘Daddy’s Home’

A not-so-short list can be made of those Will Ferrell-lead films that came to outlive expectations, those that surprised and endured as comedy standards. The rest, a list more or less equal in length, fall into the category of those films that were better as trailers, skits, or simply ideas kicked around the table.

Daddy’s Home is one of the better entries on the latter list; it doesn’t quite warrant an entire movie, but it’s not completely without merit. Occasionally funny without being cynical like misfires such as Get Hard or The Campaign, this Sean Anders-directed film has a fine heart and is a triumph of mediocrity. Pairing Ferrell up with Mark Wahlberg, which helped put The Other Guys on the former list, is a savvy move, and trying to create similar family relations as were set up in Step Brothers is good too.

It’s lazy, sure, but I don’t suppose we’re trekking to a Will Ferrell movie for cunning either.  And Daddy’s Home is neither of those great Ferrell movies.

Thus, Mark Wahlberg is the hunky, dangerous, charming, motorcycle-riding biological father up against Ferrell’s emotionally-centered, smooth-jazz loving, harmless Phil Dunphy step-dad. Working hard to earn trust with his step kids, Ferrell’s Brad Whitaker has his life shaken up when his wife’s ex comes back into the fray.

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Competitive acts of manliness and territoriality play out as Brad defends his home against Dusty Mayron, a man that everyone, including a handyman and Brad’s boss (Thomas Haden Church) are instantly taken by. It’s all fairly typical, with a sprinkling of laugh-out-loud moments punctuated redundancy after redundancy.

At least, though, Daddy’s Home, directed by Sean Anders refuses to be pessimistic or gross. That’s because neither Brad nor Dusty are necessarily malicious: they’re just trying to figure the other out while dealing with sudden feelings of anxiety and uncertain. As they try to be great fathers, partners, and men, they realize (duh) that they are both insecure and anything by manly.

A supporting cast including Church, Linda Cardellini, and Hannibal Buress offer some funny distractions, though Bobby Cannavale as an inappropriate gynecologist veers into the creepy and excessive – which the film seems to want to stay away from. That Buress, who plays the aforementioned handyman come to repair an alarming accident cause by Brad, becomes a fixture in the house is a great and recurring random gag.

Nevertheless, Daddy’s Home, with its slightly redeeming ending and splattering of laughs, is nice and forgettable, for both better and worse.

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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.