One of the stand out comedies this side of the millennium is undoubtedly Adam McKay’s The Other Guys, starring the mismatched duo of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg as the leading characters. With Daddy’s Home the pair have now returned, playing customary, established roles, in an underwhelming and distinctively unfunny piece of cinema that hasn’t pushed either of these two performers at all, as an all too familiar sense of ‘been there done that’ lingers menacingly over this lacklustre production.
Ferrell plays Brad, a compassionate, overtly emotional man who marries single mother Sarah (Linda Cardellini) and becomes the overbearing step-father of her two children. Unable to have kids of his own, it’s a role Brad thrives in – but he’s soon threatened by the unwanted arrival of the biological father, Dusty (Wahlberg). Though seemingly affable at first, their relationship and competitive nature takes a hold on both of their lives, as they vie tirelessly to become the most important role model in the children’s lives, hoping to eradicate the other once and for all.
Sean Anders’ latest endeavour follows familiar beats we know all too well, being a comedy that is seemingly adverse to attempting anything new or creative. While there is a comfortability about that sense of traditionalism, it doesn’t utilise this premise sufficiently enough, as the narrative consisting of two fathers – one a step, one biological – has the potential to not only be highly amusing, but rather intriguing too, as it’s a situation many men find themselves in. But it’s wasted within this hackneyed, farcical picture – though in fairness, the film does improve when the frivolity and absurdity of it all is ramped up, as the paramount rivalry between Brad and Dustry becomes increasingly more funny the more unsubtle it becomes. It’s just a shame it takes so long to get to this point.
Daddy’s Home is a film we’ve seen countless times before, and will undoubtedly see countless times again. Fittingly, it is somewhat akin to a ‘dad joke’, in that it’s repetitive and mostly unfunny. The difference is, dad jokes are deliberately that way inclined.