- RatedPG13 /GenreComedy
And at the sound of those words, picture two men squeezing through the door.
One is Will Ferrell, a goofy and tender-hearted human teddy bear, sweetly over-enthusiastic about trying to be a step-dad.
The other is Mark Wahlberg, alpha male and ripped, the irresponsible but effortlessly cool biological father. Kudos to the kids for being bestowed with Marky Mark’s genes, by the way.
Competition ensues between the two caricatures, and the results can either be hilarious or, in this day and age, predictable. Unfortunately, it is the latter.
It turns out that ‘Daddy’s Home’ is a testosterone battle oddly dressed as a family comedy, and one that is neither particularly family-friendly nor as funny as it should have been.
Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell) wants more than anything to be a loving father to his step-children, Megan (Scarlett Estevez) and Dylan (Owen Vaccaro).
Just as the siblings begin to accept Brad as their father after tremendous effort and patience on his part, Megan and Dylan’s biological father, Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberg), abruptly returns and begins living with the family. Jealousy quickly ensues between Brad and Dusty, and the two vastly different men begin a fierce competition to win the affections of the children.
Meanwhile, mother Sara (Linda Cardellini) desperately tries to keep the emerging chaos in order.
‘Daddy’s Home’ starts out as sweet and affectionate as its resolutely loving protagonist. Quickly portraying the Whitakers as living the ideal family life in American suburbia, the film unmistakably establishes itself as the family holiday treat that will lift spirits with its messages on love and parenthood. And it does, but in a feeble manner that is quickly undermined by the mess that unfolds.
Once Wahlberg appears and the real fun begins, it becomes clear that ‘Daddy’s Home’ is as confused about who its intended audience is as young Megan and Dylan are about who should be their father.
The film shifts its narrative and comedic focus to a heavy reliance on male humour. Everything is driven by a testosterone-filled competition on who has the better manhood, both socially and – at several points – anatomically.
The repeated clashes on territory, athletic ability and virility make it abundantly clear that ‘Daddy’s Home’ has departed from its family focus to the point that the genitalia jokes are no longer shocking when they finally arrive.
All of this masculine humour might be fine if they were found in the men’s locker room or a pub far from the suburbs in which the film is set.
Instead, these jokes are selected as the engine for a film that resolutely packages itself as a family movie throughout. The testosterone-filled humour, while mostly funny in itself, is lost on the wrong audience and disoriented by the sweet domestic elements that continue to populate every other aspect of the film.
SCATTERED LAUGHS AND PREDICTABLE WRITING
No one expects ‘Daddy’s Home’ to entertain with a ground-breaking or thoroughly original plot, and true enough, the film is thoroughly formulaic and predictable from start to end. The plot unfolds precisely as anticipated with no surprises in store.
Throughout its 90 minute duration, ‘Daddy’s Home’ gives the impression that you have seen more or less the exact same film sometime before, an impression that is unfortunately, more consistent than the humour.
To be fair, some of the humour is actually hilarious, with these jokes enough to qualify the film as somewhat entertaining. But where comedy is supposed to be the main draw, these genuinely funny moments are too few and far between to truly satisfy.
For the most part, the content is one that is understood to be funny, but too heavily recycled and underwhelming to have a genuine effect.
Indeed, Ferrell and Wahlberg are fine as the stereotypical soft-spoken family man and the irresponsible cool guy. But the duo are just one of the many predictable elements of ‘Daddy’s Home’, and they fail to bring anything refreshing that could elevate the film.
‘Daddy’s Home’ is no doubt a tireless brawl, a clash between being sometimes funny and sometimes dull, a dude flick and an attempted family comedy.
And as with all childish bickers that stubbornly persist without much progress, it all gets very old very quickly.
'Daddy's Home' opens 31 Dec 2015