Monday, February 15, 2016

Film Review: Daddy's Home

I'm sorry that I've been late in getting this review out.

And to be honest, the movie has not left that large of an impression with me.  That in and of itself should say something about Daddy's Home.

It isn't a bad movie per se.  But it does little to make any kind of impression.

The movie centers on Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell), a mild-mannered man who married his wife Sara (Linda Cardellini), who has two small children from a previous marriage.  But Brad couldn't be happier to be a step-father.  With great patience and love, he waits through the children's meanness and coldness until a parental relationship begins to form.  But then Sara's ex-husband Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) comes to town.  He is a tough, manly-man who is stands in stark contrast to Brad's beta-male ways.  Dusty ingratiates himself further and further into his children's lives in an effort to win back his family.  Hilarity is supposed to ensue.

What follows is not particularly good, but it also isn't very bad.  Humor is very much a subjective thing.  I can see how people might find many of these jokes funny, but they kind of went past me.  The story is very much by-the-numbers.  The movie does a fairly decent job of showing the challenges of blending a family.  Brad is likable enough until the competition gets between he and Dusty gets out of hand.  There is a sequence where Brad gets drunk at a basketball game that is more upsetting than it is funny.

The performances are adequate.  They are unable to elevate the script beyond anything too spectacular.  There is one slightly off-color scene in a doctors office that is funny.  And Hannibal Buress does a fine job as additional comic relief as a contractor who ends up moving in.

But the last few minutes are the best of the movie, with the some nice surprises and character moments.

The movie does a nice job of showing the difficulty and necessity of fatherhood and as a Catholic I always find this message refreshing.  Too often fathers in film and television are viewed as superfluous and disposable.  The movie makes clear that children need fathers in their lives and this requires a great deal of sacrifice.

But the biggest takeaway from Daddy's Home is that it isn't great or terrible.  It is exceptionally ordinary.

2 and 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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