Title: Daddy’s Home
Director: Sean Anders
Major Players: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg
Out Of Five: 2
So Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are back together again for another comedy. It’s been five years since their previous outing, The Other Guys, where Ferrell was the risk-averse cop and Wahlberg was the more dangerous one. Curiously, none of the publicity for their latest outing, Daddy’s Home, mentions them as a returning double act. It doesn’t bode well.
This time round, they’re in a situation that is probably all-too-familiar for some families. Mild-mannered executive Brad (Ferrell) has recently married the lovely Sarah (Linda Cardellini) and taken on her two, equally lovely, children. Much as he adores children and is the perfect dad, the kids are slow to accept him but, just as he makes that all-important breakthrough, their real father shows up – Dusty (Wahlberg), muscular, motorbike riding and as cool as they come. And this daddy clearly has one aim in mind – to break up the happy family so that he can re-claim his children and his wife. One way or another.
As the subject for a comedy, this may be too close to the bone for some, so it comes with something of a health warning. For those lucky enough to have comparatively uncomplicated family lives, it’s a reasonably amusing comedy.
Wahlberg is the better cast of the two, with his tight T-shirts and bulging biceps, he looks the part: a charming waster who’s remarkably good at getting under your skin. A player, in other words. Ferrell’s Brad is well intentioned, kind and utterly undermined by his predecessor. He’s only just made a start on a treehouse in the garden. Dusty completes it in spectacular fashion. Dusty shows off his skateboarding skills, complete with helmet cam. Brad tries to outdo him and ends up electrocuting himself on the overhead cables. No surprises there, then. And, from what we see, it’s a miracle that Brad’s in charge of marketing for a radio station because his initial choices for the new voice on their jingles are simply terrible. Who gets the job? You only get one guess ……
So where do the laughs come in? Some of the physical comedy is good, the skateboarding and a motorcycling scene which ends up with Ferrell lodged in an interior wall. Where it works best is when it takes your assumptions and turns them on their head. So Brad’s having a very personal phone conversation about his marriage – and, as the camera pans out, we see that it’s all taken place during a meeting and everybody’s been listening. Then, as the icing on the cake, we discover it’s also a conference call.
It all works out well in the end – well, of course it does! – it’s amusing enough, but routine. It doesn’t really have anything new or enlightening to say about the effects of separation on families – all the members of them – but perhaps that would be asking too much from a comedy. Or, at least, this type of comedy.
BTW, there is one joyous line that brought the house down. Ferrell and his wife visit a fertility expert as they desperately want to have a baby. We’re treated to varying descriptions of his equipment and then, inevitably, Wahlberg is brought in to illustrate what the perfect specimens look like. Or, as doctor Bobby Cannavale, describes them “Two perfect Patrick Stewarts!”
Make it so!
Daddy’s Home is released in cinemas on Boxing Day, Saturday, 26 December and will be reviewed on Talking Pictures on Christmas Eve, Thursday, 24 December.