Daddy’s Home movie review: floundering fathers

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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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RogerBW
RogerBW
Mon, Dec 21, 2015 6:34pm

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  RogerBW
Mon, Dec 21, 2015 8:28pm

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

RogerBW
RogerBW
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Dec 21, 2015 9:20pm

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

MarkyD
reply to  RogerBW
Tue, Dec 22, 2015 5:07pm

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

rick s
rick s
Mon, Dec 21, 2015 6:51pm

Has Mark Wahlberg’s career really fallen this far?

Tonio Kruger
Tonio Kruger
reply to  rick s
Tue, Dec 22, 2015 4:24am

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

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  Tonio Kruger
Tue, Dec 22, 2015 5:42am

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
Tonio Kruger
reply to  Danielm80
Tue, Dec 22, 2015 4:16pm

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Tonio Kruger
Tue, Dec 22, 2015 9:58pm

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

Jonathan Roth
Jonathan Roth
Mon, Dec 21, 2015 7:22pm

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.

Matt Clayton
Matt Clayton
Tue, Dec 22, 2015 1:41am

Good. I was going to skip it anyway.