One can tell that there is something wrong with a movie when the movie within a movie turns out to be more interesting than the movie itself. In DADDY’S HOME 2, the families end up at one point stranded at a suburban cinema where a fake movie MISSILE TOW starring Liam Neeson is playing. Neeson pays a character (voice only heard) that rescues his family from terrorists at all costs. That fake film is heard for only a minute or two before director Anders turns the audience back to his nightmare Christmas movie – DADDY’S HOME 2
Moviegoers must have been very naughty during 2017 as Santa has rewarded them already with two awfully bad Christmas comedies – A BAD MOM’ S CHRISTMAS and now DADDY’S HOME 2. DADDY’S HOME numero uno arrived on Christmas Day 2015 and went on to gross a remarkable $150 million domestically. Thus arrives number 2 with Paramount hoping to do well again at the box-office.
The first film dealt with step-dad Brad (Will Ferrell) having to deal with his wife’s kids’ real father Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) showing up to undo all the values that Brad had instilled in his family. HOME 2 ups the angst with the arrival of the dads’ dads in the form of Mel Gibson and John Lithgow. Gibson has had quite the bad press and has been successful behind the camera (HACKSAW RIDGE, PASSION OF THE CHRIST) than in front of it. Surprisingly, he is the funniest and best of the cast in the film, playing against his true character in life – a macho, gun-totting anti-feminist old goat.
Like all Christmas comedies, the usual disastrous set ups are there – the setting up of the electrical house decorations that go wrong (at least this one is quite elaborately done); the Christmas tree shopping; the snowball fight (not funny at all); the Christmas dinner; the feel good sentiment (it is only the children that count); the breaking of a hard heart (John Cena’s as the biological father of Dusty’s kid). The worst of all is the film’s climax, which must rank as the corniest set-up of all time that takes place in a cinema theatre during a blackout. There is a shameless promotion of the good of going to the movies where audiences are encouraged to turn to the next person to greet them.
A few non Christmas setups are included – the most notable being the bowling segment where one son has the problem of throwing his bowling ball into the gutter. It is a rather simple setup that turns out to generate only a few laughs, if any pity laughs. The predictable shoplifting gag does not work either nor the revelation of the notes that Dusty’s girlfriend takes of Brad’s wife that turn out to be good ones.
DADDY’S HOME 2 might work for the undemanding moviegoer. There were people applauding at he end of the film, but critics can only shrug at this early Christmas enterprise.