Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell team up for the second time in Sean Anders’ comedy.
Will Ferrell is nothing if not consistent – whilst he has been the star of some of the most hilarious comedies of the 21st century, even his lesser efforts are sure to make you laugh. He’s a funny guy, and he can be counted on to make funny films – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? It will therefore as a surprise to no-one that Daddy’s Home is funny. Ferrell first teamed up with Mark Wahlberg for action comedy The Other Guys in 2010, and they have proven their comedic chemistry again here in a film about everyman Brad (Will Ferrell), who is married to Sara (Linda Cardellini) and step-father to her two kids. Brad wants nothing more than for the kids to call him Dad, and he seems to be making progress in that direction until Dusty (Mark Wahlberg), the kids’ biological father, shows up. Cue a step-father v Dad stand-off where everyone involved learns a lesson or two.
Sean Anders is in the directors chair, with his previous credits including Horrible Bosses 2 (2014) and writing gigs on We’re The Millers (2013) and Dumb and Dumber To (2014). He doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but the film is clearly in capable hands. His camera work on the more physical scenes is strong, but he does little to elevate Daddy’s Home above typical Friday-night movie fare.
Brian Burns’ screenplay (which is loosely based on his own experiences as a step-father), breaks no new ground and the plot is as predictable as the trailer makes it out to be. The film is largely propped up by the aforementioned chemistry between its leading men. The juxtaposition of over-earnest and by-the-book Brad and the wild and unpredictable Dusty is a trope in itself (“It’s a story as old as time” remarks Dusty in an amusingly self-aware moment), but that doesn’t stop it from being funny to watch them attempt to one-up each other.
The cast is rounded out by some hilarious supporting players, most notably Griff (Hannibal Buress), the handyman who becomes friends with Dusty and Leo (Thomas Haden Church), Brad’s over-sharing boss. Buress and Haden Church’s dry humour acts as an effective balance to the more over-the-top and slapstick elements of the central duo, keeping it from becoming overpowering. A cameo from John Cena is also expertly executed, getting one of the biggest laughs of the film.
The kids (played by Scarlett Esteves and Owen Vaccaro) are nowhere near as insufferable as the children that populate many a comedy (the kids in last years Vacation, albeit older, immediately spring to mind). It’s also worth noting that the film is the epitome of a boy’s club, with Cardellini given little to do other than to stand around and shake her head at the men, but if anything that’s more of a reflection on the wider problems about women in comedy.
The product placement is so hilariously blatant that it deserves special mention – from Ford cars to numerous types of beer, the film cannot be accused subtlety in either its storytelling or shafting of products, but it’ll at least give you something else to laugh about. Whilst critics have been mixed in their opinions, the film has been a smash-hit financially and is close to hitting the $200 million mark in domestic grosses, which makes it Ferrell’s second largest non-animated opening. All in all, it’s nothing new and you will be hard pressed to remember it in a month’s time, but Daddy’s Home is still well worth a watch based on Ferrell and Wahlberg’s comedic duo alone.