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‘Daddy’s Home 2’s’ well cast comedic ensemble find laughs beneath its Hollywood sheen

Not all of it works, but more than enough does.
Mel Gibson, Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell in Daddy's Home 2
[Image: Paramount Pictures]

‘Daddy’s Home 2’

Director: Sean Anders

Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, John Lithgow, Mel Gibson

Rating: PG-13

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3 (Out Of 5) Globes

 

Plot: Following the antics of 2015’s “Daddy’s Home,” Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) and Brad (Will Ferrell) have come together to create a perfect combination as step-dad and dad. But that is put to the ultimate test when Dusty’s old-school pops Kurt (Mel Gibson) comes to town for Christmas, especially since he is the polar opposite of Brad’s dad Don (John Lithgow). When Kurt books a snowy retreat away for the week all of their relationships are put to the test.

Review: It shouldn’t need pointing out that a film like "Daddy’s Home 2" isn’t looking to break the mold or push buttons in the way that Will Ferrell’s previous comedies "Anchorman," "Talladega Nights," and "The Other Guys" did. Not just because it has a PG-13 rating and is clearly looking to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, but it also has an immediately apparent Hollywood sheen, thanks to its blindingly bright visuals and clunky opening montage.

 

The critical reaction to the enjoyable and consistently amusing 2015 original, which scored just 31% on Rotten Tomatoes, suggests that some people might have ridiculously high expectations of the lengths and depths that "Daddy’s Home 2" should be going to just because it stars Ferrell and Wahlberg, though. I will be the first to admit that not all of "Daddy’s Home 2" works. In fact, at one point you can’t help but notice that three scenes in a row end with Will Ferrell falling flat on his face or back in a jarringly violent manner. But, despite its mainstream aspirations, "Daddy’s Home 2" still includes plenty of laughs, most of which come from ridiculous and downright stupid incidents. But that doesn't stop them being enjoyable.

 

"Daddy's Home 2" works because of its impeccable casting of Mel Gibson and John Lithgow as Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell’s fathers, respectively. The latter duo have previously proven to be an effective comedic duo, something that is still in full force, and Gibson and Lithgow only add to that. Sure there are periods where the film feels aimless. But the genltle laughs, smiles and chortles never really cease, as the film plays to its strengths and allows the cast to riff off each other.

 

That’s not just between its leading foursome, as the wives (Linda Cardellini and Alessandra Ambrosio) and children (Scarlet Estevez, Owen Vaccaro, Didi Costine) are given plots and threads to contend with, too. Its ending even merges "Sullivan’s Travels" with "A Christmas Carol," while delivering surprising jokes and scenes that are organic yet absurd. So sit back, lower your expectations, and embrace the mediocrity, because "Daddy’s Home 2" knows how stupid, slapstick, and decidedly middle of the road it is, which is exactly why it delivers.