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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Daddy’s Home movie review: floundering fathers

Daddy's Home red light

Clichés about good dads and bad boys go beyond the cheap and obvious and into the insulting. There’s nothing unexpected or even mildly amusing here.
I’m “biast” (pro): often like Wahlberg and Ferrell

I’m “biast” (con): not a fan of dumb comedies

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Will Ferrell is Brad. He works at a smooth-jazz radio station, which, as we all know, is a job no real man would accept. Mark Wahlberg is Dusty. He rides a motorcycle and wears a leather jacket, unless he’s not wearing anything up top at all, so as to show off his sculpted bod and to highlight how lumpy Brad is by comparison. These two, er, people — I hesitate to call them men; they’re more like large children suffering from delusions of adulthood — are engaged in a battle for the hearts and minds of gradeschoolers Dylan (Owen Vaccaro) and Megan (Scarlett Estevez). Dusty is their biological father; Brad is now married to their mom, Sarah (Linda Cardellini: Avengers: Age of Ultron), the vaguely woman-shaped cardboard cutout who is granted, by this lazy movie, about as much personality as the kids are: they all could well be the stock photo that comes with a dude’s new wallet come to a pale approximation of life. The clichés about picture-postcard dadhood and pinup bad boys go beyond the cheap and obvious and into the realm of the insulting, particularly given that Ferrell and Wahlberg’s prior team-up was the marvelously subversive The Other Guys. But there’s nothing in the least bit surprising or unexpected or even mildly amusing here; I could have written this review merely by watching the movie’s trailer, and I wish I had done, and saved myself the time. This isn’t as bad as director and coscreenwriter Sean Anders’ That’s My Boy, which is perhaps the most repulsive movie about fatherhood ever made. But that’s a very low bar. Daddy’s Home eventually discovers a smidge of heart in the vicinity of the right place, but this comes far too late to make up for the 90 minutes of crude dick-measuring — over children! — that has come before.


red light 2 stars

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Daddy’s Home (2015)
US/Can release: Dec 25 2015
UK/Ire release: Dec 26 2015

MPAA: rated PG-13 for thematic elements, crude and suggestive content, and for language
BBFC: rated 12A (moderate bad language, sex references, comic violence)

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • RogerBW

    It’s very rare that I hope a film is a dismal failure. But, just from the trailer, I hope this one is. The basic plot is so hateful that I want Hollywood to get the idea that people don’t want to see this rubbish.

    Unfortunately I suspect that people do.

  • rick s

    Has Mark Wahlberg’s career really fallen this far?

  • Jonathan Roth

    There’s nothing more perplexing than watching a film that “gets it” in he original promptly “forgets it” in the follow-up, whether it’s a direct sequel or a project by the same team.

  • This is bad, but it’s nowhere near the worst film of the year. There’s been way worse.

  • RogerBW

    True. Worst film of the month, maybe? He said hopefully.

  • Matt Clayton

    Good. I was going to skip it anyway.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Mark Wahlberg’s career? Heck, whatever happened to Linda Cardellini’s?

  • Danielm80

    I don’t understand the question. I mean, I know you’re joking, but with the exception of a supporting role on ER, almost everything she’s appeared in, until recently, has been fairly obscure. Over the past two years, she suddenly started showing up everywhere, most prominently in Mad Men and Avengers: Age of Ultron. If anything, her career is getting more successful, and the projects she’s signed up for—other than this one—have gotten more critical acclaim.

    Also, I’d much rather watch her than Mark Wahlberg.

  • Tonio Kruger

    If anything, her career is getting more successful, and the projects she’s signed up for—other than this one—have gotten more critical acclaim.

    And yet she still does movies like this one…

    But seriously, folks…

    Ever since I saw her in the cult TV favorite Freaks and Geeks, I liked to think Ms. Cardellini had a lot of potential but unfortunately, apart from the supporting role on ER that you mentioned, her career has been kinda erratic until recently.

    Granted, she is not the only actress in that boat. I’m still surprised that Connie Britton has been as successful as she’s been given the fact that her breakthrough show Friday Night Lights was also a bit of a cult favorite –being more popular with critics than with actual TV viewers. (Of course, when I look at the type of TV shows that are popular nowadays, I can’t help but wonder if that’s some kind of compliment.)

    Also, I’d much rather watch her than Mark Wahlberg.

    I can’t disagree with you there.

  • Right there with you. The trailers make me feel icky. This looks awful.

  • She’s a woman in Hollywood. That’s what happened.

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