Thursday, July 19, 2018

Film Review: Daddy's Home 2

Sexuality/Nudity Acceptable
Violence Acceptable
Vulgarity Acceptable
Anti-Catholic Philosophy Mature

The first Daddy's Home was a mediocre film with a likable cast.

Daddy's Home 2 isn't even half as good as that.

This sequel picks up with the strange blended family from the last movie.  Brad (Will Ferrel) is married to Sara (Linda Cardellini) and is stepdad to her two kids (Owen Vaccaro and Scarlett Estevez) and raising their little baby.  Sara's ex-husband Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) helps co-parent his kids while trying to connect to his stepdaughter (Didi Costine) from his new wife Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio).  The group all gets along fine until Brad's father Don (John Lithgow) and Dusty's father Kurt (Mel Gibson) come to visit.  Don is overly nice, emotionally open parent and Kurt is a cool, womanizing scoundrel.  What should follow are a comedy of clashing personalities.

I didn't laugh once.

This shouldn't have happened.  Wahlberg and Gibson are incredibly talented and Ferrel and Lithgow can also be funny.  But none of the jokes are able to produce a single genuine laugh.  The most they may elicit is a polite smile.  You can understand a joke without laughing and that is what you get from this hollow movie.

The script has no intelligence and doesn't bother to find humor from any deeper themes.  Cardellini is a talented actress, but she is given nothing to do in this movie of any humor or significance.  She is often paired with Ambrosio who sucks all of the joy out of the screen with her empty performance.  Her character is meant to be vacuous, but I was constantly annoyed by her mere presence on the screen.  And that is saying a lot when you have a character as cloying as Lithgow's Don.

I am incredibly annoyed by movies that accept the death of marriage.  I cannot stand Mrs. Doubtfire for this reason.  As a child of divorce, I understand that this is a reality that many families live through and this can be the subject for great drama and comedy.  But there are so many films where it seems like the characters give up on marriage without a fight.  One character in this movie has an arc involving his wife separating from him.  Instead of moving him towards some kind of introspection and self-improvement to fight for his wife's affections, he simply accepts that his relationship is over.  It makes the marriage vows feel paper thin.

The subplot with Brad's stepson Dylan is also very strange.  The movie sets up that he has a crush and throughout the film both Brad and Dusty try to give him advice.  But the resolution of this story is incredibly weird.  It is only makes sense if you ignore everything else you've seen in the movie up until that point.  And rather than exploring Dylan's dilemma throughout the movie, which would be some real fertile ground for comedy, the filmmakers decided to save it as a surprise punchline to a story arc that makes no sense.

Other than that, the framework of the plot works fine.  The situations create a comedic space where hilarity should ensue.  But none of the jokes land.  Having a funny situation without a funny reaction is like a set up without a punchline.  And that is how the entire movie feels.  And with a cast like this, there is no excuse for that.

image by Yasir72.multan

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