Five years ago both Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell were two of the most insipid actors on screen. Then a film called The Other Guys arrived in which director Adam McKay put them together on screen and, it turned out to be an unexpected laugh riot.
Not only did that film make audiences take Wahlberg seriously as a comedic actor but also realized Ferrell could do more than over the top farcical humor. The fun was all too brief, however, as both actors managed to go back to making terrible movies. Six years on, Hollywood attempts to reignite the magic with Daddy’s Home, a new comedy starring Wahlberg and Ferrell, but the results vary from disappointing to utterly humourless.
Ferrell plays Brad, the second husband of Sara (Linda Cardellini) and stepfather of two kids who are finding it hard to accept him as their new dad. A wave of insecurity arrives like a Tsunami onto Brad when Sara’s first husband Dusty (Wahlberg) shows up with beefy muscles and an easygoing bond with the kids. Dusty seems to be everything Brad isn’t, and Brad does more and more stupid things to fit in. The remainder of the film is exactly as cumbersome as the setup, as Brad gets drunk and makes a public display of himself, gets estranged with Sara, and Dusty finds new ways to split up Sara and Brad.
What really doesn’t work at the onset is the tedious script by Brian Burns and Sean Anders – every beat is far too predictable and the jokes are juvenile at best. When you see actors in their mid forties mouthing lines that pre teens would find immature, there’s little in the movie to be really invested in. It does not help that both Wahlberg and Ferrell seem utterly uninterested in being on screen. Most of their comedic moments seem rehearsed to the point of boredom, and they look like they’re simply going through the motions, waiting for the filming to end, rather than entertaining the audience.
In interesting sub plots, Bobby Cannavale makes a tiresome cameo as a fertility clinic pal of Brad’s while Thomas Haden Church turns in an even worse performance as a loud boss. His performance, despite being such a miniscule role, is so off putting in fact that one begins to wonder how Alexander Payne managed to squeeze out such a good performance from Church in Sideways.
McKay is credited as one of the producers of the film but there is not a shred of the hilarious off kilter comedy from The Other Guys. The classiest moment in the film is a moment when a dog named Tumour is humping a female Santa Claus doll. The not so classy moments of humour involve sub plots chronicling Brad’s testicles, sperm, his infertility and an accident with a dental X-ray machine. And naturally one of the characters’ manliness is suddenly exposed to unsuspecting public as a vehicle of comedic shock value. It does not work on any level, of course.
Neither is the humor edgy enough for the smarter audience nor is it fun enough to be a passable low brow comedy. It feels like the filmmakers attempted to make a full on low brow film but were restricted with a PG rating. As it stands, even a bad SNL skit is far more sophisticated than anything in this film.