Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg give it their all, but they can not save Daddy’s Home from its formulaic plot and its wide range of missed opportunities.
In Daddy’s Home, Brad (Will Ferrell) talks about the difference between being a dad and being a father. He considers himself a father, someone who is there for his children. He recently marries Sarah (Linda Cardellini) and becomes stepfather to her two children. However, the family dynamic is tossed into chaos when the children’s real dad, drifter Dusty (Mark Wahlberg), comes to town in an attempt to win his family back. Now, Ferrell and Wahlberg duke it out for the affection of Cardellini and her children.
There is so much comedic potential with a premise like this. It is always fun to see two people from totally opposite ends of the spectrum conflict each other. In fact, Ferrell and Wahlberg did this with hilarious results in The Other Guys. The same result cannot be said for this film because, unlike Adam McKay, director Sean Anders does not know what makes this duo work.
Adam McKay’s films with Ferrell get along by going all out with the humor. Jokes come flying at full speed and characters become caricatures, but in a good way. The two characters Ferrell and Wahlberg play in here are too restrained to be out-of-this world funny. Anders does not make the most of what he has.
You cannot help but laugh at some scenes because of Ferrell’s comic timing and Wahlberg’s stoic hilarity. However, there are more scenes of dead air.
Hannibal Burress shows up near the beginning as a plumber who stays with the family for some reason not explained. The only joke with him is about him being an African-American. It is a joke that is never funny. Cardellini, who proved a nice presence in her brief role in Avengers: Age of Ultron, is given nothing to work with and becomes a boring housewife. Thomas Haden Church does provide some moments of witty dry humor, but it starts to wear off after a while.
When the two dads inevitably put aside their differences, it all culminates in an ending that feels 100 percent unearned and out of nowhere. There is never a good exploration about the dynamic between these two characters that when they finally forgive each other, it feels more like a plot convenience than a genuine reunion.
Sean Anders adds another softball comedy to his roster. Even if Daddy’s Home, you’ll still want to stay with mom.