Daddy’s Home may not have scored well critically, but it found enough of an audience to warrant a sequel. Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg had a chemistry that clicked in The Other Guys, so the two pairing up for another comedy seemed like a good idea. I must admit to almost enjoying the film when it came out in 2015 – there were a few amusing moments which carried it – but it was never an experience I would consider repeating. So you can imagine my enthusiasm at not only a sequel, but one which is set around that pinnacle time for schmaltz and farce….Christmas. Oh dear!
Daddy’s Home 2 sees the co-dads return, and come up with the cool idea to have a joint Christmas, so the kids can be with all their family at the same time rather than having two different celebrations at different houses. The appearance of Dusty’s (Mark Wahlberg) dad after years of no contact coincides with Brad’s (Will Ferrell) own father joining the family for the season is one of those forced coincidences guaranteed to prompt attempts at hilarity. With Mel Gibson and John Lithgow playing the respective fathers and acting to type, you can pretty much signpost everything that comes next. Especially if you’ve seen pretty much every other dysfunctional-family-Christmas film, which this tired sequel steals heavily from throughout.
It’s not that Daddy’s Home 2 is a terrible film – don’t get me wrong, it is not a good film by any stretch of the imagination, it just isn’t terrible – and it does, like the first film, prompt a few chucklesome moments. It’s just that it is an unnecessary film, and one that does nothing that hasn’t been done better elsewhere on many occasions. You want some hilarity involving trashing a freshly decorated house? We got it! Hey, how about scenes where ‘hard edged’ guys get teary over a sentimental song? Yup…that’s here. How about a moment when the opposed personalities finally decide enough is enough and go their separate ways? Of course that’s here….can you guess what happens next?
You could title this film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2 (and I am aware there already is one, but I like to forget that film exists), and replace Ferrell with Chevy Chase, such is the similarity, and the manner of antics. The whole film is a by-the-numbers comedy about dysfunctional families coming together at this time of year. Jokes are signposted well in advance, and rarely manage to achieve the lofty heights they aim for. Like the National Lampoon film, many scenes come over as individual sketches cobbled together in a loose story.
I’ve always maintained that there are a handful of decent Christmas films (for the sake of argument, I’m leaving out films set at Christmas such as Die Hard and Iron Man 3). That number isn’t going to change. However, the number of Christmas films with Will Ferrell in which are tired and lacklustre just doubled!