By Bradley Griffith
I have written 48 reviews this year and only five of them have been about movies that truly fit into the comedy category. The reason for this is simple: there are very few great comedies made anymore. There are many good movies in other genres that also have a lot of laughs, but at their heart they aren’t comedies. “Daddy’s Home 2” isn’t great, but it will do until the next great comedy comes along.
Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell) and Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberg) are finally getting along. Brad is married to Dusty’s ex-wife, Sara (Linda Cardellini), and the step-dad of Dusty’s two kids, Megan (Scarlett Estevez) and Dylan (Owen Vaccaro). While in the first movie Brad and Dusty clashed over their different parenting styles, in the sequel they not only get along, but appear to be best friends in their co-dad duties.
This peaceful situation is in danger of exploding up during the holidays. Brad and Dusty decide to have one big Christmas together for the sake of the kids. Brad’s dad, Don (John Lithgow), is coming for Christmas like he always does. But this year Dusty’s dad, Kurt (Mel Gibson), invited himself for the holidays.
Much like Brad and Dusty, Don and Kurt couldn’t be more different. Don is nurturing and loving and treats Brad like he’s still a young child. Don frequently kisses Brad on the lips. Kurt, on the other hand, is the epitome of a cool older guy. He’s a former astronaut and is a man’s man. Dusty dreads his father’s arrival because he knows that Kurt will constantly make fun of the relationship he has with Brad.
But Kurt takes it a step further. He spends the entire movie trying to sabotage the goodwill that Brad and Dusty built up between each other. It’s not until later in the movie that Kurt begins to realize maybe he can learn a thing or two about being a dad from Brad, Don, and Dusty.
First of all, you don’t need to see the first movie to appreciate “Daddy’s Home 2.” I haven’t seen the first film. All you need to know is that Brad and Dusty clashed in their parenting styles and personalities but eventually worked it out for the good of the kids. It’s fairly easy to recognize the relationships, the dynamics between the characters, and all of the unsaid words.
Most importantly, “Daddy’s Home 2” is funny. Are you going to laugh until your stomach hurts or until you fall out of your chair? No. But the laughs are pretty much non-stop as the movie moves along at a brisk pace. The chemistry between Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg is what makes the movie enjoyable. Their characters, and the actors themselves, seem to be the opposite of each other in nearly every way, yet they somehow make it work.
“Daddy’s Home 2” is Will Ferrell’s best movie since “Anchorman 2,” over four years ago. He tends to either give a perfect performance or a pretty bad one. In this case he is the perfect mild-mannered Brad Whitaker. His character is so innocent that he’s vaguely reminiscent of Buddy from “Elf.”
A bonus feature to “Daddy’s Home 2” is that it’s also a Christmas movie in theaters during the holidays. It takes place during the week leading up to Christmas, mostly in an enormous rented cabin with snow constantly falling. They decorate the cabin with Christmas lights and go snow sledding. Although, it’s probably not best appreciated by kids. There’s nothing in the movie that’s particularly bad for teens, but the humor is probably better appreciated by adults.
If you’re in the mood for a funny Christmas movie to lighten and brighten your day, you could do much worse than “Daddy’s Home 2.”
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Rated PG-13 for suggestive material and some language.