Chemistry is often a major part of whether or not a movie is successful in being entertaining. If the chemistry between the actors involved just isn’t there, then it’s hard to believe or stay overly interested in what’s happening on the screen. While this is important in all genres of film, it’s arguable that comedy may be where it’s needed most. So it’s no surprise that when you find a duo that just click, like Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, the door to potential sequels is that much more enticing. Cue Daddy’s Home 2.
The sequel to the 2015 hit Daddy’s Home reunites Wahlberg and Ferrell as Dusty and Brad, respectively – the co-parents of Dylan (Owen Vaccaro) and Megan (Scarlett Estevez). Yes, after their back and forth in the first film, where Dusty tried to retake his place as Dylan and Megan’s one and only father, he and Brad have come together for the kids and now get along great – even alternating making baked goods for the kid’s sporting events. It’s fun to see the growth they’ve made since we last saw them, and all seems well and good until another pair of dads enter the picture.
Yes, the game changer this time out is that both Brad’s dad – who is shown to have been very active in Brad and his grandchildren’s lives – and Dusty’s dad – who Dusty hasn’t heard from in years – are both coming to visit for Christmas. Now, as mentioned above, chemistry is vital here, and luckily the casting was knocked out of the park, as John Lithgow plays Brad’s overly sentimental, talkative and incredibly affectionate father, Don, while Mel Gibson slides perfectly into the role of Dusty’s old school, manly man, hide your feelings behind oozing machismo dad, Kurt.
These four play off one another wonderfully, and it’s clear they’re having a lot of fun making this movie. Now while this could’ve been a money grab sequel, co-writer/director Sean Anders and co-writer John Morris took the time to build off the foundation of the first film, while also adding plenty of fresh fun this time out. While Kurt has been absent for most of their lives, he’s instantly jealous of the relationship they have with Don, and he quickly tries to play the hero by booking them a family getaway to a big cabin so they can share the holidays together.
Kurt also has ulterior motives, however, as he also sees this co-parenting thing that Dusty has going on with Brad as silly and wrong. He feels Dusty is becoming too soft, and it’s his goal to drive a wedge between them that will once again open the floodgates that we saw the first time around.
While it would’ve been easy enough to go the same route as the first film and possibly have Dusty squaring off against Roger (John Cena), who made a brief appearance at the end of the original, it’s the family dynamic that truly helps make these movies work. While there’s nothing groundbreaking here, Daddy’s Home 2 is a movie that’s just fun to watch because of how well everyone on screen plays off one another.
Now that doesn’t mean it’s without fault. Like Daddy’s Home, the sequel again has some over-the-top scenes, and there are some eye-roll worthy moments. There’s a scene where they go out to cut down a tree for the holidays, and while I’ll skip over the specifics, in the end doing so lands them a $20,000 bill. Now that’s a LOT of money, and while it makes sense in the situation that that’s what’d happen, their reaction is pretty calm. I know that if I received a bill for $20,000…well, that’d change my life for the worse rather quickly. And while this is just a fun, silly movie, the way they brush it off as though they just have tens of thousands of dollars socked away in the closet is rather odd.
I mean this is really a movie where you can’t take things seriously. Maybe that goes without saying, but there’s part of it that really does hit the mark when it comes to trying to shine a light – albeit an incredibly comedic one – on the different forms that parenting can take, and the movie does a good job there. But alongside that are plenty of slapstick moments – usually at the expense of Ferrell – that take it out of the realm of reality. It’s a fine line to walk, and Daddy’s Home 2 does it well, but it may just not be for everybody.
On the acting front, both Wahlberg and Ferrell are loads of fun, and Lithgow fits in as Brad’s dad like a glove. Gibson definitely stands out in this group, as this isn’t his usual type of role, but he brings the exact counterbalance to Lithgow that the film needs, and it’s clear he loves every minute of it.
Also returning is Brad’s wife, Sara (Linda Cardellini), who has her own side story trying to befriend Dusty’s wife Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio.) Unfortunately, their story is a bit more awkward and not nearly as fleshed out as it should’ve been. While there’s only so much you can fit into a movie, it just falls flat for what they were going for. While Ambrosio is a model without too much acting experience, they just don’t give her much to work with, and so when she walks off and takes notes (she’s a writer, and Sara is paranoid she’s writing negatively about her) or looks at Sara oddly, then begins to write without saying anything…it just comes off bizarre.
The kids do some solid work here too, with some fun being had with them growing up and adjusting to the father situation that life has handed them. The standout and scene-stealer of the entire film is Estevez though. She’s got some hilarious moments throughout, and she absolutely hammers them home when it counts, helping elevate the comedy of the scenes, which could have easily fallen flat under a less talented child actor.
While it doesn’t have all the charm of the first film, Daddy’s Home 2 is a fun, entertaining movie that’s elevated thanks to the great chemistry between those involved.
Making a Sequel – This feature comes in at just under five minutes in length and sees the writers/director and actors talking about coming back to make the sequel, changing it up with more characters and what audiences can expect.
Look Who’s Back – This feature is just over seven minutes in length and highlights the cast from the first film that have returned for the sequel.
Co-Dads: Will & Mark – This feature is six and a half minutes long, and talks about Farrell and Wahlberg and what they bring to the film.
The New Dads in Town: Mel & John – This feature is seven and a half minutes, and as the title suggests, it talks about Lithgow and Gibson coming aboard. It’s fun to see some of the notes on Gibson, including how he shot one of the scenes himself.
Captain Sully – This feature is just over two minutes in length, and I won’t go into too much detail here, but check it out afterwards.
Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes – Just over eleven minutes worth of scenes to be found here, for those who like these sorts of things.
Gag Reel – Now I do enjoy gag reels from time to time, but this one stands out as one of the best. It’s just under four minutes long, but I could’ve watched another ten minutes easily. It’s just a lot of fun to see these actors go back and forth, improvising, and just having a lot of fun together on set.
Paramount Pictures Presents Daddy’s Home 2. Directed by: Sean Anders. Written by: Sean Anders and John Morris. Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, John Lithgow, Mel Gibson, Linda Cardellini, Owen Vaccaro, Scarlett Estevez, Didi Costine, Alessandra Ambrosio, John Cena. Running time: 100 Minutes. Rating: PG. Released on Blu-ray: Feb. 20, 2018.
Tags: daddy's home 2, John Cena, Mark Wahlberg, Scarlett Estevez, Will Ferrell