As far as the story goes, Daddy’s Home 2 is more of the same, with no one in the film attempting to conceal the fact that they’re using a formula that somehow worked earlier once again for a quick cash grab. A few years have passed since the first film and both fathers (Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell) now get along with each other, sharing responsibilities and time for their family. But things take a turn when they are forced to spend Christmas with their dads – played by John Lithgow and Mel Gibson. You get the gimmick? The problematic dads have even more problematic dads, so let’s put them all in a room together and let sparks fly on their own.
None of the actors are given good material which is a shame considering the cast. The director Sean Anders (We’re the Millers) had all the elements at his disposal to make this a fun entertainer like the first Bringing Down the House, but there’s a persistent lack of effort in Daddy’s Home 2 that derails every attempt at a comedic situation. The film tries to utilize the ‘awkwardness’ of this seemingly mismatched cast but there’s a fundamental problem with this – the Gibson and Lithgow characters are simply extensions of their sons, which feels like a joke repeated for the second time. Had the filmmakers switched both the super dads’ qualities – making the soft spoken Lithgow, Wahlberg’s dad and the ladies man Gibson, Ferrell’s dad — the mismatch could have played to more potent laughs. Weirdness is what the film needed but generic and predictable is what you get.
In a desperate attempt the film also throws in John Cena into the mix but instead of subverting his tough guy image into a hilarious goof like in Trainwreck, the film plays him straight, which turns out to be another missed opportunity. It seems the filmmakers didn’t learn from Movie 43 that simply throwing in a large cast doesn’t necessarily make a fun movie. But the most frustrating part of all this is the sheer lack of entertainment generated by Ferrell and Wahlberg on screen together. This is especially weird considering the pair was absolutely sidesplitting in The Other Guys, but then again that was directed by Adam McKay who is a true comedy genius.
Wahlberg recently stated that he regrets being a part of Boogie Nights. Considering that was his best film, and everything else including this film has been dollops of turd, it’s clear what his cinematic sensibilities are. Perhaps he will never understand that even Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s B-side songs are less infuriating that Daddy’s Home 2.