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Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 03:43 pm

Familiar “Daddy’s Home 2” Still Effective

There’s nothing new in Daddy’s Home 2, something that works to its advantage and detriment. The comedic dynamic between stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, the former doing his patented overgrown child routine, the later his tough guy struggling with his emotions shtick, is still in place as is the conflict between the blended family at the movie’s center.  That this all begins to wear a bit thin before the predictable happy ending rolls around is no surprise.  However, the addition of John Lithgow and Mel Gibson, in a brilliant piece of casting, as the fathers of these two man-children proves inspired, as the screen vets help carry the day, giving this exhausted premise the boost it needs.

Everything seems to be hunky-dory between Brad (Ferrell) and Dusty (Wahlberg).  They’ve pleasantly worked out an arrangement to co-raise Dylan (Owen Vaccaro) and Megan (Scarlett Estevez) along with their respective wives Sara (Linda Cardenelli) and Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio). However, when the kids mention they don’t want to have to go back and forth between houses, the dads overreact and go into crisis mood trying to solve this “problem.”  Meanwhile, things become more complicated when Brad and Dusty’s fathers - Don (Lithgow) and Kurt (Gibson) – show up for the holidays, as their opposing views of parenthood are sure to clash.

Kurt (Mel Gibson) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) aren't in on Brad (John Lithgow) and Don's (John LIthgow) joke in Daddy's Home 2.
Courtesy Paramount Pictures

The physical gags are predictable but effective, thanks in large part to Ferrell’s willingness to sell them and play the fool. Whether it’s two cups of hot cocoa, a park swing set or an errant snow blower, you know Brad will run afoul of it and to the actor’s credit, most of these moments work.  Wahlberg is carrying the heaviest load as his character is torn between the expectations of his father and not wanting to alienate his own stepdaughter Adrianna (Didi Costine). It’s a thankless role but its necessary to move the plot along and the actor doesn’t buckle under the awkward exposition he’s saddled with. 

However, it’s the old pros that save the show as Lithgow and Gibson play their version of the overbearing grandpa to the hilt.  While the former handles the schmaltz, the latter parodies his tough guy image, doling out doses of tough love at every turn.  Their conflicting styles make for some funny scenes yet ironically their best moment occurs when their characters agree on something – the irrefutable Dad Law that you never, NEVER turn the thermostat past 68 degrees while everyone’s asleep. That Adrianna has the temerity to crank it up to 85 degrees causes no end of apoplectic reactions.

Kurt (Mel Gibson), Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) and Brad (Will Ferrell) give Dylan (Owen Vacarro) some advice on how to talk to a girl in Daddy's Home 2
Courtesy Paramount Pictures

No, Daddy’s Home 2 will not be mentioned in the obituary of any those performing in it, and you’re likely to forget most of it by the time you hit the parking lot.  Yet, it’s a harmless piece of holiday fluff that you’ll likely be able to relate to what with all the dadness on display.   

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