Daddy’s Home movie review: floundering fathers

Daddy's Home red light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

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.

see also:
Daddy’s Home 2 movie review: the father away, the better

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