I suppose it’s only fair, since Point Break turned out to be entertaining almost in spite of itself, that the other wide-release non-Star Wars option at the cineplex this holiday season, Daddy’s Home, is exactly as bad as you think it is. At least, it’s as bad as you think it is if you think it’s a ninety-six minute fecal examination. You may be more optimistic than me—I don’t know you. But if you are going in with high hopes, you should abandon them now. Don’t expect anything from Daddy’s Home and it can’t disappoint you.
Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg re-team after The Other Guys, a movie which understands that jokes are actually supposed to be funny, but this time they are not working with Ferrell’s creative partner, Adam McKay—he was busy enriching cinema this year with the top notch The Big Short. Instead, Daddy’s Home pairs Ferrell and Wahlberg with the creative team behind such immediately forgettable fare as We’re The Millers, Horrible Bosses 2, Adam Sandler’s Actual Garbage (aka That’s My Boy), and the execrable Sex Drive. Amazingly, Daddy’s Home is not as bad as this lot of impressively sh*t “comedies”, but that’s like saying that vomit is not as bad as diarrhea.
Ferrell stars as Brad, a creepily wholesome guy who longs to be a father but can’t have kids of his own, so he marries a woman with two young children and boom—instant family that he immediately takes over and forces into his idea of the suburban dream. This is also the setup of a horror movie about a man who acquires a ready-made family and then ties them to their chairs in the dining room and forces them to enact perfect family dinners over and over until they die of gastric distress. And Wahlberg is Dusty, the biological father of Brad’s step-children who is a deadbeat and an asshole and is either a mercenary or a CIA agent or maybe an international assassin. It’s really not clear, nor is this mystery about Dusty’s world-traveling and presumably dangerous job played for laughs. But that’s okay, nothing in Daddy’s Home is funny anyway, so the missed opportunity fits right in.
Deadbeat Dusty decides that since someone else has peed in his litter box he’s going to return home and win back his family even though he has no real interest in being a husband or father. So he barges into Serial Killer Brad’s idealized suburbian life and begins psychologically torturing Brad, trying to drive him out in a series of escalating events that always involve Dusty being the MOST MAN, because Marky Mark must always play hyper-masculine characters, even in a domestic comedy, because Marky Mark is the MOST MAN. I would like to see Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Marky Mark in a movie together, just trying to out-man each other. We could call it The Man Off.
By far the most annoying thing about Daddy’s Home, besides its existence, is that Linda Cardellini plays a literal trophy wife. She has nothing to do, character-wise or joke-wise, which is a real let down after recent comedies have offered solid roles for wife/girlfriend characters, such as Neighbors and The Night Before. But she’s just there to be an object for the men to fight over. Ditto for the kids, who might as well be named “Plot” and “Convenience”. The only bright spot in the movie, other than the part where it’s over, is Hannibal Buress as a handyman who ends up crashing on Brad’s couch. He pops into scenes at random and his chill delivery is a solid foil for Ferrell’s amped up hyper schtick.
If you’re looking for a funny movie, see if your local theater is still running The Night Before. Or check out Adam McKay’s The Big Short, which is legit funny. Or go see Point Break! It’s mostly unintentional, but Point Break is really funny. This is how bad Daddy’s Home is—I am willingly and without reservation recommending the totally unnecessary remake of Point Break as a viable alternative. I would rather you support that dumbass movie because at least it’s actually entertaining. Daddy’s Home is not entertaining. It’s a lazily executed painful waste of talented performers.
Attached: Mark Wahlberg on the beach with his family in Hawaii on December 28, 2015.