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Non-Review Review: Daddy’s Home 2

Daddy’s Home 2 is awkward and broad, with too few laughs and too much dead air.

As the title suggests, Daddy’s Home 2 is the sequel to the similarly uninspired Daddy’s Home, in which Will Ferrell finds himself competing for the affection of his stepchildren with their biological father, played by Mark Wahlberg. Daddy’s Home 2 seeks to add some extra excitement into the mix by bringing another generation into the mix; John Lithgow joins the cast as father to Will Ferrell’s character, while Mel Gibson is cast in the role of withholding parent to Mark Wahlberg’s emotionally stunted adult.

Bad dads.

Daddy’s Home 2 largely tries to coast on the charm of these four male leads, bouncing scenarios and concepts off them. Some of these jokes are diverting, but Daddy’s Home 2 is largely free from big belly laughs. Outside of a couple of very effective set pieces, Daddy’s Home 2 sets itself the bar of “reasonably diverting.” The film occasionally stumbles past that, but there is never a sense of Daddy’s Home 2 has been honed or crafted. Even at ninety-six minutes, the movie feels bloated and over-extended.

Daddy’s Home 2 tries to paper over its weaknesses with an emphasis on the charm of its four leading performers, most shamelessly in its final act when Will Ferrell all but addresses the audience directly as he sings the praises of the cinema as a communal experience in which people might be alone with everybody. Daddy’s Home 2 is a film that never pushes itself too hard, content to wallow in its own mediocrity.

It’s not that funny.

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Non-Review Review: Daddy’s Home

Daddy’s Home is fairly mediocre comedy, despite the promise. In some respects, the film recalls very successful Will Ferrell vehicles. The premise of the film is fairly solid, with father and step-father competing with one another for the love of their children; it loosely resembles a middle-aged version of the awkward immaturity that made Step-Brothers such fun. The film features the unlikely comedic team of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, two actors who had played very well off one another in The Other Guys.

The problem is simply one of calibration. Daddy’s Home struggles to pitch itself at the right level, never finding the right balance between sincere and cynical. It seems trite to complain that the protagonists of a modern comedy are unlikable or unsympathetic, but Daddy’s Home never feels like it finds an emotional core. This is not a fatal flaw of itself, but it becomes a problem when Daddy’s Home cannot supply a steady stream of laughs.

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