If this is what schools mean by “families come in all shapes and sizes”, then God have mercy on us all. Will Ferrell, Academy Award nominee Mark Wahlberg and Linda Cardellini star in Daddy’s Home.
Cast of Characters:
Brad Taggart – Will Ferrell
Dusty Mayron – Mark Wahlberg
Sarah Taggart – Linda Cardellini
Leo – Thomas Haden Church
Griff – Hannibal Buress
Dr. Francisco – Bobby Cannavale
Megan Taggart – Scarlett Estevez
Dylan Taggart – Owen Vaccaro
Director – Sean Anders
Screenplay – Brian Burns, Sean Anders & John Morris
Producer – Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Chris Henchy & John Morris
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, crude and suggestive content, and for language
Brad Taggart (Will Ferrell) is a kind, mild-mannered radio executive who’s been trying so hard to become a good stepdad to his wife Sarah’s (Linda Cardellini) two children, Megan (Scarlett Estevez) and Dylan (Own Vaccaro). It’s taken quite some time, but eventually it looks as if Brad has finally won them over, but just as that happens, Megan and Dylan’s biological father Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberg) enters the scene and jams a complicated monkey wrench into Brad’s stepdad aspirations.
Dusty’s may not have sacrificed 24/7 for Megan and Dylan like Brad’s bent over backwards to do, but he’s twice as charismatic, cooler, funner, hipper and, as one man points out, Brad’s “better in every way”. That’s when the battle for the kids’ affections begin.
Daddy’s Home is the second team-up of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg following 2010’s The Other Guys. The Adam McKay directed comedy, while sporadically funny, was still entertaining enough thanks mostly to the chemistry between its two leads. This time, however, McKay is no longer in the director’s chair (though he does still serve as producer), and in his place sits Sean Anders, who directed the crappy Horrible Bosses 2 and the even crappier That’s My Boy.
And he can add Daddy’s Home to his ever-growing list of directorial duds.
Not that this film is as bad as Horrible Bosses 2 or That’s My Boy (though not that the margin of quality between the three is that far apart either); Ferrell and Wahlberg work well together, and every now and then it leads to an inspired comic bit (e.g., their competing stories to the kids about the “returning king” and the “ruling step-king with good credit”). The problem here is that Anders and his two co-writers John Morris and Brian Burns are content to just leave what satirical promise the premise of a stepfather bending over backwards to win his stepchildren’s approval offers on the table, and resort solely to over-the-top gags that are rarely, if ever, funny.
Furthermore, with the lack of any comic effort from Anders, Morris and Burns leaving the three with a thin series of dad vs. stepdad gags, the film is stretched out and padded with pointless scenes involving characters that add nothing to the film. Thomas Haden Church keeps popping up as Ferrell’s creepy boss who constantly tells him absurd stories about his many failed marriages. Even more absurd is that it’s apparently his way of giving Brad advice. Equally unnecessary is Hannibal Buress as some contractor Dusty befriends. His role in the film is nothing more than to just lounge around Brad and Sarah’s house.
Apparently, that’s what qualifies as funny to Anders. It’s not, and the only purpose those moments serve in this film is bringing it to a screeching halt.
As I said, the does benefit some from the pairing of its two leads, but even their chemistry together isn’t much help against the fact that they’re both playing idiots (though they’re both given more to work with than Linda Cardellini, a fine actress who’s tragically underused here). Wahlberg’s Dusty may have all the coolness and charisma in the world, but at the end of the day, he’s still a deadbeat dad who doesn’t realize that until – well, of course, the script conveniently tells him to. That, and he’s not that intimidating of a presence up against Brad. The only reason it seems that way is ’cause Brad is just that much of cream puff. Other than that, Dusty really isn’t as dangerous as we’re led to believe he is.
Ferrell’s Brad starts off as insufferably kind and caring, the kind of over-achiever you just wanna punch in the face, but then when the stakes are raised, he takes desperation to new lows. The transition from affable and sweet to flat-out pathetic (no scene is more pathetic than his cringe-inducing drunken rant at a New Orleans Pelicans game) isn’t all that funny, and it’s hard to believe that after stooping to such restraining order deserving lows, Sarah would even consider taking Brad back.
But, of course, she has to ’cause the film needs to end on a happy note.
Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg once again prove they have solid comedic chemistry, which produces some laughs; however, director Sean Anders and his team of co-writers squander said chemistry on a series of dumb, over-the-top gags and frivolous side characters that only serve as a kink in comedic flow. The biggest letdown, though, is that the premise to Daddy’s Home could’ve been satirical gold, but unfortunately, the film lacks the cojones to dive deep into its comic potential.
I give Daddy’s Home a C- (★★).