We all know Will Ferrell’s comedy. It’s irreverent, self-deprecating, and raunchy. But none of these belong in a film that wants to be sentimental. And it doesn’t even reach the point of cloying until about 10 minutes left.
This is nothing against Ferrell or Mark Wahlberg’s comedic skills or their chemistry with one another. I just think the filmmakers got excited about all the talent on board that they forgot that they had to make an actual movie.
In Daddy’s Home, Ferrell plays Brad, the nebbish new husband of Sarah (Linda Cardellini), who tries to vie for the affection of his new stepchildren. Then, all of a sudden, Sarah’s deadbeat ex-husband, Dusty (Wahlberg), comes to town to see his children. Dusty has no knowledge of Brad–an issue that never gets resolved–and does everything in his power to bully him and make him feel inferior while trying to win Sarah and his kids back.
The film has very few laughs, despite its talent, and feels obviously reliant on its credentialed leads. There is no real meat to the plot and never builds momentum. It just muddles along until about the last 15 minutes, when it actually attempts to go somewhere with its empty premise. It’s literally an hour and a half of Dusty bullying Brad and everyone in the film laughing about it. It’s relentless. And there’s no back and forth either. All of the humility is on Ferrell’s character.
Brad can’t have children because of radiation exposure to his genitals, so Dusty belittles him by convincing him that Sarah wants more children and that he won’t be able to provide for her. But it turns out that Sarah is the one with no scrotum, as she does nothing to stop Dusty’s harassment, and even sides with him a few times. What an appealing movie.
We feel bad for Ferrell’s character the whole time (or at least we should) that it makes none of this funny. But with Ferrell comes insensitivity. He almost begs us to be okay with him being put down. And although he provides almost all of the laughs in this film, it would have almost been better if he wasn’t in it. Maybe then the writers would have been okay with giving the movie some real meaning.
The biggest problem is that Ferrell doesn’t fit in this type of role. He’s at his true best when he’s the one playing the douchey guy (Anchorman, Talladega Nights). Then his foibles are exposed and it’s pure ironic genius. Personally, I don’t like seeing him in these types of roles.
I just couldn’t help feeling the entire time that this was just a lazily put together product. In fact, at one point in the movie I believe the camera actually shakes as if it was bumped slightly.
The only saving grace is Thomas Hayden Church’s character. He plays Brad’s coworker at the smooth jazz radio station. He provides us with a few off-kilter quips of insight which are better bottled up and served separately from the rest of the film.
Unless you enjoy an entire movie where everyone worships the antagonist to the delight of the audience, you won’t be pandered by this. The epicaricacy borders on sadistic. And when the redemption finally comes in the end, it doesn’t make up for anything. The people who like this film must get their psyche fully evaluated.