After the success of 2010’s The Other Guys – the last time both Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg teamed up – the pairing seemed seemed ripe for exploitation, in what proved to be a surprisingly laugh-out-loud funny comedy. This time around, in Daddy’s Home, their latest foray into their odd-coupling comedy, the promise of another classic is not to be, their combined efforts working only sparingly and to very little fanfare.
Will Ferrell is Brad Whitaker, a mild-mannered, wholesome family man married to beautiful Sara (Linda Cardellini) and her two children (Scarlett Estevez and Owen Vaccaro) from a prior engagement, leaving one to wonder how goofball Brad ended up with such a catch. Dusty (Mark Wahlberg), deadbeat dad, coolly weasels his way back to Sara and the kids, shaking up to their calm suburban placidity, with leather jacket and motorcycle to match. Dusty does more than just stir things up a bit, which is troublesome for Brad as he tries to prove that he’s an adequate step-father to the kids.
On the other hand, Dusty tries to prove that he’s the real father that his children deserve and throws Brad’s good-natured intentions into disarray. All the while, Dusty tries to regain the trust and love of Sara, slowly wedging himself in the well-established family that Brad worked so hard to build and maintain.
A series of slapstick antics where Brad tries to prove his worth and Dusty tries to impress the family and upstage Brad, lead to a series of crazy antics that don’t equate to much, keeping the laughs very much grounded. Apart from a hilariously ironic cameo at the end of the film that brings the movie full circle, this comedy has very little to offer. Fans of Wahlberg and Ferrell may find their tribulations amusing, but I was left wanting more – much more.
In fact, the best character here is comedian Hannibal Buress, playing a handyman, who ends up squatting in Brad’s house along with Dusty. Anything that comes out of Griff’s (Buress) mouth is pure gold, quick to call Brad a racist when Brad makes comments Griff feels are charged with racial undertones.
Daddy’s Home feels like a failed attempt to channel the abrasiveness and that unique chemistry Wahlberg and Ferrell possessed in The Other Guys, but the lack of good writing contributes to their wasted efforts this go-around with the whole affair feeling forced. Here, that energy is absent; what’s left is a tame and stripped down farce as predictable as expected – right down to the expected crowd pleasing reconciliation.