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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

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

Daddy's Home 2 red light

MaryAnn’s quick take…
Goes well beyond the typical mindless array of slapstick and humiliation to reach disgusting new depths of coarseness. Not just appalling, but actually dangerous.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): hated Daddy’s Home; this one looked worse
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

I was going to skip Daddy’s Home 2. The first one was appalling, and did not demand a sequel, and this one looked worse. Life is too short, even for a film critic, to give in and see every idiotic movie. But then a critic friend asked me to attend a press screening with her — you know, as moral support — so I did. As my self-sacrificing good deed for the day. And I’m actually glad I ended up seeing the movie after all. Not because it’s good: dear god in heaven, no. But because it is so abysmal, so amoral that I would never have believed it could be this awful without having seen it for myself. Daddy’s Home 2 isn’t just appalling, as its predecessor was. It’s actually dangerous.

The absolute worst joke sweater a dad could wear is, I promise you, a million times better than this movie.

The absolute worst joke sweater a dad could wear is, I promise you, a million times better than this movie.

I am especially worried about this now that the film is doing so well at the box office, and with audiences: it has already more than earned back its production budget in the US, and it’s a hit in the UK; it has garnered a Cinemascore (which polls US moviegoers on opening night) of A-. Daddy 2 is going to be playing well through Christmas (the fact that film is set at Christmastime helps, too). If the movie had flopped, I probably would’t have bothered to write this review. But I feel an urgent need to warn the unsuspecting: This is not a movie for children. This is not a fun multiplex outing for the whole family, unless your family is the Trumps. What passes for humor here goes well beyond the typical mindless array of slapstick pratfalls and humiliations galore of characters who are supposedly meant to be sympathetic. All those things are bad enough. But Daddy 2 reaches disgusting new depths of coarseness, actively engaging some of the very worst instincts our culture is embracing at this terrible moment. Here is some of what passes for humor in this movie:

• an adult slut-shames a child
• a child accidentally shoots someone with a hunting rifle
• a man tells a “dead hooker” joke to children
• a man instructs a boy on the “friend zone,” as if that’s a real thing
• a man instructs a boy on how to grope girls
• gay panic involving children
• children getting drunk thanks to parental negligence.

These are not things children should be exposed to, and they are not the stuff of family entertainment. And these are mere throwaways! But the baked-in ideas that Daddy’s Home 2 believes are worth celebrating are even worse.

Gay panic involving children, slut-shaming a little girl, and teaching boys how to grope. This is not the stuff of family entertainment.

The sitcom antics of the first movie – for those lucky enough to be unaware of the story — involve a biological dad, Mark Wahlberg’s (Patriots Day, Deepwater Horizon) Dusty, and a stepdad, Will Ferrell’s (The House, Zoolander 2) Brad, learning how to share paternal responsibilities toward gradeschoolers Dylan (Owen Vaccaro: Fun Mom Dinner) and Megan (Scarlett Estevez); their mom is Sara (Linda Cardellini: The Founder, Avengers: Age of Ultron), Dusty’s ex and Brad’s new wife. Dusty is a stereotypical tough guy, all leather and motorcycles and toxic masculinity; Brad is a caricature of soft and squishy and touchy-feely, so “naturally” they have no choice but to compete with one another for the children’s affection. (As if the kids couldn’t love them both.) The men do finally reach an accommodation, and as Daddy 2 opens, we’re meant to find it hilarious, for some reason, how well they now get along. Getting along with another dude ain’t manly.

“Hey, Ferrell. What say we just hop on a plane and fly right outta this movie?”

“Hey, Ferrell. What say we just hop on a plane and fly right outta this movie?”

Concerns about maintaining appropriate levels of manliness are all over Daddy’s Home 2, which opens with, explores, and concludes with the notion that it’s better to go overboard in the direction of toxic masculinity rather than the girly-man one, just to be safe. Daddy 2 relitigates the conflict of it predecessor by bringing in Dusty’s and Brad’s own fathers, who are even more extreme versions of their sons. Dusty’s dad, Kurt (Mel Gibson: Blood Father, The Expendables 3), is an ex-astronaut, which writers Sean Anders and John Morris (both returning from the first movie; Anders [Horrible Bosses 2, That’s My Boy] returns as director) appear to believe is the manliest occupation possible. (No one tell them that there are lots of women astronauts.) Kurt is an apparent sex addict, picking up random women for sexual escapades while he is ostensibly spending a family Christmas with Dusty and his grandchildren and the extended family (also including Dusty’s new partner, Karen [Alessandra Ambrosio] and her tween daughter, Adrianna (Didi Costine)]. Kurt appears to be as misogynist as Gibson himself is, though thankfully the movie refrains from bringing in Gibson’s antisemitism and racism. (Anders may be saving this for Daddy’s Home 3.) Brad’s father, Don (John Lithgow: Miss Sloane, The Accountant), is, well, yer basic cuddly grandpa: a sweet, kind man whom the kids love (even though he’s not even their bio-grandpa) because he tells silly grandpa jokes and is just a friendly teddy bear.

Daddy’s Home 2 invokes Mel Gibson’s own misogyny for laughs. Presumably his antisemitism and racism are being held in reserve for Daddy’s Home 3.

Here’s the thing: Daddy 2 positions Kurt as the villain, but the movie takes Kurt’s side on everything: on his disdain for Don and Brad’s overt affection for each other, for Don’s kindness and enthusiasm for being part of a big family. There is nothing in the least bit exaggerated about Kurt — his brand of male awfulness is seen in the wild daily — but the movie has to invent extremes for Don to highlight him as ridiculous, such as his use of baby talk with the clearly adult Brad. And the movie lets Kurt swagger along spouting his awfulness with no pushback at all beyond a few demurrals from the other adults if the kids are listening (but plenty times not even then). But Don: he is the butt of much of the film’s violent slapstick. Why is it funny that the grandfather that the kids actually like — and not the creepy one who probably stinks of booze all the time — keeps getting whacked in the head by snowballs that knock him flat? Don is depicted as a big dumb lumbering ineffectual overemotional dolt, and abuse is heaped upon him because of it. (Brad comes in for similar treatment, again.) Kurt is depicted as a real man with some rough edges, and the kids come to love him without him changing anything about himself at all. WTF?

After all this, Daddy’s Home 2 has the outrageous nerve to serve up a meta helping of “It’s just a movie, chill out.” The shenanigans end up at a multiplex on Christmas Day, where everyone watches a shitty seasonal Liam Neeson action movie called Missile Tow, which is probably actually coming to a theater near you soon, because who can distinguish the real movies from the joke ones anymore. Missile Tow also features children in situations children should not be in and a shoveling-on of sticky sentiment that, in all likelihood, has not been supported by 90-some minutes of movie that came before it. Just like Daddy’s Home 2!

I swear to god, Hollywood is just straight-up trolling us these days.

see also:
Daddy’s Home movie review: floundering fathers

Click here for my ranking of this and 2017’s other theatrical releases.

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Daddy’s Home 2 (2017) | directed by Sean Anders
US/Can release: Nov 10 2017
UK/Ire release: Nov 22 2017

MPAA: rated PG-13 for suggestive material and some language
BBFC: rated 12A (moderate bad language, innuendo)

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, please reconsider.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Coco is starting to look better and better at this point.

  • Evan

    I didn’t bother with the first, I won’t bother with the second. Waste of 2 hours.

  • Beowulf

    Guess this answers the question of who voted for Trump.
    The Wolf, man.

  • duck

    No. Films do not have to fulfill your liberal points of views. They are meant as entertainment. And half the audience (if not more for these kinds of films) are conservative, as I am. And leave your Presidential politics out of this. Im glad Mel Gibson taught him to pick up girls that way. I’m a lady and I teach my son the same. Nothing wrong with gay panic. Im glad they make the girlie-men, the object of ridicule, because men should act like men not women. Remember, conservative homophobes, such as myself, Watch movies too. Go review a artsy Meryl Streep joint…may be more your style. Basically, the lower you rate this film, the higher it stands in my book. Stupid liberal. Thank you!

  • BraveGamgee

    I think this may actually be the first time in my life I’ve ever seen someone refer to themselves as a homophobe…

  • Danielm80

    I once heard someone describe himself as “closed-minded,” and for the same reasons. He seemed very proud of it, and I guess “duck” is, too, since she upvoted her own comment. (Maybe she thinks that makes her argument twice as convincing.)

    I’m genuinely curious whether duck was able to ignore the politics of Brokeback Mountain or Call Me By Your Name (or even the Ghostbusters reboot) and just watch them as entertainment.

  • Bluejay

    Basically, the lower you rate this film, the higher it stands in my book.

    You realize that you just admitted you NEED liberals to help you decide how to feel about a film, right? Not very independent-minded of you.

  • duck

    I did, to answer your question. However, I didnt find them entertaining.

  • duck

    No, buddy. I didn’t write that I NEED liberals to help me decide. I enjoyed this film before I even read this review. I enjoyed it even MORE, when I see how much sensitive liberals get triggered by it. Sort of like when I read Beer reviews written by those snobs. I would enjoy Drinking Bud, Busch, Etc., regardless, but when I read how those snobs are against Drinking THOSE KINDS OF BEERS, it makes me enjoy DRINKING THEM, even more!

  • Bluejay

    So your level of enjoyment is determined by other people. What a weak mind.

    But hey, you upvote your own comments, so good for you! Cool and smart people are always the first ones to declare that they’re cool and smart. (See: Trump.)

  • (This has got to be an attempt at some sort of performance art.)

  • Bluejay

    These days, who can tell?

  • duck

    I upvote things I agree with. I usually agree with myself. I dont have a weak mind at all. However, movie, restaurant, hotel, etc., reviews exist for a reason, don’t they? Also, your initial response was a lie because u claimed I wrote that I NEED liberals to help me decide. I corrected you, in that I never wrote that. But a negative review from a libby, is equivalent to a positive review, from my point of view. Again, President Trump has nothing to do with this film review.

  • Bluejay

    Someday, things will stop going over your head. I believe in you!

  • duck

    Some Day, you’ll wipe that egg off your face that you have, for stating that I wrote that I NEEDED liberals approval, to enjoy things (which I never wrote).

  • Bluejay

    Bless your heart. Run along now.

  • duck

    Ya, you do that!

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    “I didn’t totally self-own, YOU SELF-OWNED!”

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