Synopsis – Stepdad, Brad Whitaker, is a radio host trying to get his stepchildren to love him and call him Dad. But his plans turn upside down when the biological father, Dusty Mayron, returns.
My Take – If you like Will Ferrell‘s sense of comedy, this is a kind of film you would enjoy! This film, like just about all Ferrell vehicles, goes too far and there will be some who find it a bit much. But that’s what Will Ferrell does and he’s smart enough to surround himself with synergism in his co-stars. Everybody loves a good laugh, but what makes us burst out into shrieks of delight is purely in the eye of the beholder. Some people still find Adam Sandler funny (and relevant) while others find the rebooted canned laughter of early eighties slapstick comedy the right fit for their sense of humor. It is all about taste and what one actually finds amusing. I find Will Ferrell amusing (It didn’t start like that before) and when he teams up with Mark Wahlberg, then what you have are a couple of “goofs” that can actually make people laugh. They are opposite in every way and because of this extreme difference, their personalities just seem to gel. Director Sean Anders (We’re the Miller’s) has reunited Ferrell and Wahlberg for the first time since their maiden outing together in the goofed up comedy, ‘The Other Guys’. Surprisingly, that film worked with a collection of the most bizarre casting coming together to produce a funny cinematic experience.
This film has created a similar feeling with plenty of riotous events that will leave you with no other choice but to laugh out loud before choking on a mouthful of popcorn. The story follows Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell), who has longed to be a dad but because of an unfortunate incident, can no longer father his own. He gets his opportunity when he marries Sara (Linda Cardellini), a sheer beauty who has two children from a previous relationship. He is a man that loves his role and even in the face of adversity he enthusiastically launches himself into the children’s lives. Brad’s world is threatened when the irresponsible biological father makes a visit. Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberg) is everything Brad is not. In a simple word, the man is cool. He is popular with everybody and can do pretty much anything. Along the way, Brad gets “advice” in the form of humorously self-aggrandizing stories from his boss (Thomas Haden Church) and medical help in trying to expand his family from a famous fertility doctor (Bobby Cannavale), while having to deal with a handyman (Hannibal Buress) whom Dustin invites to move in and who thinks that Brad’s a racist. As Brad and Dustin escalate their competition, each deals with some of his efforts hilariously backfiring. It’s going to take a lot of grit, determination and cunning for either Brad or Dustin to win this “dad off”. What follows is a riotous narrative of Step-dad versus dad as both Brad and Dusty go to great lengths to out do each other for the admiration of their children. There are some truly gut busting moments and throw in the dry humor of Thomas Haden Church as Leo Holt, adds flavor to an already delicious pie. A real standout are the well timed comments of Hannibal Buress whose presence is hard to ignore. His character, Griff, is likable from the very first appearance. Griff’s relationship with both Brad and Dusty are priceless and commands the audiences attention whenever he is on the screen. This is a movie that actually showcases Will Ferrell for the funnyman he really is. Another point is that Dusty’s sabotage is done in this very clever way that even in Dusty’s or Brad’s most ridiculous attempts, you’ll find yourself rooting for both because you see the good qualities that each one has despite Brad’s dorkiness and Dusty’s insecurity. The comedy serves the characters, not the other way around, that’s ultimately what makes this film effective. This is slapstick physical type family comedy but it also shows how difficult it is for parents to win the affection of their kids at times. Families come in different shapes, sizes, and forms these days, but you can make it work. Yet I must say as much as I enjoyed myself throughout, I couldn’t help but notice how restrained it feels at times. Like almost all Ferrell comedies, this film works desperately to maintain its PG-13 rating to reach the widest possible audience (and highest box office potential). An R-rated version wouldn’t have necessarily been a better movie, but it wouldn’t feel watered down like the final cut feels at times.
Some of the lamer slapstick-style gags also seem like they were thrown in to appeal to younger audience members, and seem a bit more over-the-top when compared to the comedy in the rest of the flick. Brian Burn’s screenplay is nothing spectacular but it doesn’t have to be as Ferrell revels in the moment, delivering his trademark idiosyncratic ‘fruitcake’ performance. The funny man is constantly on the receiving end of Wahlberg‘s macho act but it sets the tone for some memorable events. Ferrell’s films are predictable but he does them so well that the fans keep coming back for more. Mark Wahlberg is proving versatile and isn’t afraid of fabricating his own style. He is comfortable in allowing Ferrell to take the lead and then with all the smoothness of a newborn babies bum, slides into his role, bouncing off the comedic turn of big Will’s antics. Wahlberg has proved he can be a solid straight man comedic actor, and here, given plenty of pure gold passive aggressive lines to undermine Ferrell’s over-achieving need to be step dad to Walhberg‘s kids…well, let’s say Ferrell and Wahlberg make the tepidness of predictability less of a liability, succeeding in a fairly frequent flow of laughs. On the whole, ‘Daddy’s Home’ does exactly what it is supposed to do and that is to make people laugh. Director Sean Anders has delivered a thoroughly amusing film that allows its cast to do their stuff. This film is funny and heartwarming. Relax and enjoy it.
Director – Sean Anders
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 96 minutes