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In the space of a few weeks we saw the release of an unnecessary comedy sequel set at Christmas. The first being A Bad Moms Christmas and Daddy’s Home 2 followed – acting as a more ‘family friendly’ alternative. Both are equally dreadful.
Since the events of the first film Brad Whittaker (Will Ferrell) and Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberg) have been sharing their parental duties successfully. As the holidays approach Megan (Scarlett Estevez) reveals to the whole family she hates going back and forth between two sets of parents – leading Brad and Dusty agreeing to a shared Christmas. Yet a spanner is thrown into their plans when Dusty’s astronaut father, Kurt (Mel Gibson) invites himself over and takes the families on vacation so he can drive a rift between Brad and Dusty.
The original Daddy’s Home was a subpar comedy earning a 31% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.1 on IMDB. It was also a financial success, making $242.8 million from a $69 million budget so a sequel is a no-brainer from a business sense. But comedies do not lend themselves well to sequels because they are usually one-off stories that shouldn’t continue. The only way to continue is to reignite the old conflicts, just like A Bad Moms Christmas did.
Despite Brad and Dusty getting over their issues from the first film, they are transferred to Kurt whose role as grandpa has been usurped by Brad’s father, Don (John Lithgow). Kurt is shown to be a red-blooded man who believes men hunt and women cook and he acts with disdain to the modern parenting techniques that Brad and Dusty use.
The film also repeats the storyline involving Dusty’s son Dylan (Owen Vaccaro). In the first film Dylan was being bullied and his father and stepfather give him different suggestions how to handle the situation: Brad says buckle under, Dusty’s advice is to fight back. Here, Dylan has fallen from for a girl and turns to his male figures to ask what the next move should be. Brad says to enter the friendzone, Dusty says be confident and Kurt adds that the boy should just kiss her and slap her on the ass. This subplot even retcons Dylan’s resolution from the first film where the parents find out his bully was a girl and she was picking on the boy because she liked him.
If you want to look for a deeper theme, Kurt representing raw masculinity and has old-fashioned views standing in contrast to Brad and Don’s approach of being overly supportive. Kurt wants to toughen the kids up by humiliation and killing. Yet, both parent approaches shown in the film messed up Dusty and Brad because Dusty hates his father and Brad is way too close to his. Kurt believes in guns and killing which is the opposite to Brad and his wife, Sara (Linda Cardellini), who have a gun-free house. The film even uses the term ‘snowflake’ which has recently become a popular insult from right-wingers to people with more liberal views.
Daddy’s Home 2 also adds to the familial strife. Aside from the clash between Brad, Dusty and Kurt there are other conflicts. Dusty is a pushover when it comes to disciplining his phone obsessed stepdaughter Adrianna (Didi Costine) who often states her dislike of him. The wives are also in conflict because Adrianna’s mother, Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio) has a more relaxed approach to parenting and Sara fears she’s being judged. John Cena’s character ends being the most sympathetic because he wants to take his daughter away from this freak show.
This family conflict ends up giving Daddy’s Home 2 a nasty, mean-spirited taste. Like in the first film Brad is a butt monkey, he is constantly humiliated and on the receiving end of the joke and he got that trait from his father. Other highlights include a little girl turning into a psychopath in waiting when given a firearm, two kids getting drunk and watching a boy being mocked for being a poor bowler. For a film being marketed to families there is a surprisingly large amount of jokes involving incest. This is a Christmas film that follows in the footsteps of Deck the Halls – a film that helped to destroy the Christmas comedy genre.
Daddy’s Home 2 is an example of a comedy that needs to use its score to tell a joke. If a joke fails to land just play some comedy music as a substitute. It is incredibly lazy. The film does have the occasional line and moment that offers a little chuckle but it is not enough to justify the sequel’s existence.
It is an example of spreadsheet filmmaking – something only made because it’s profitable instead of any artistic merit. It is unfunny hack work from people who only wanted a paycheque. There is an avenue left open for a Daddy’s Home 3 which leads to me screaming ‘no!’
Daddy’s Home 2 featured a fake film starring Liam Neeson, that would have been preferred viewing.