Daddy’s Home and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Sean Anders
While Adam McKay is trying to branch out with The Big Short, his longtime collaborator Will Ferrell seems to be doing the same thing he’s been doing since Bush was in the White House. You could make the comparisons between him and Adam Sandler, but honestly I still find the guy funny and despite always going back to the man-child well, he’s still willing to branch out every once in a while with films Like Everything Must Go and even The LEGO Movie where he actually got to make an honest statement about the people he has so often portrayed in film. This one though doesn’t look to be all that challenging for him or his audience, but it can still be funny, right? They’ve got Mark Wahlberg in there, and he’s proven himself to be hilarious in other movies. Will this be the perfect comedy to end 2015 on, or is this going to be one more reason we can’t wait to see the year end? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about Will Ferrell playing some guy who’s a step dad and Marky Mark from the Funky Bunch playing the biological father of the family Will Ferrell married into. Will Ferrell has spent the last year or so trying desperately to connect with his new step children and it finally seems like they’re starting to accept him when Marky Mark calls up and says he’s coming over to visit. Misunderstands and double talk then ensue which somehow leads to Marky Mark staying in the garage of their new house and he spends most of the film trying to undercut Will Ferrell and win back his family that he abandoned many years ago. Seems like a tough sell, but it turns out that the kids have mythologized him and he’s also a real MAN’S MAN so who couldn’t fall in love with that, am I right? Can Will Ferrell prove his manly dad-ness enough to convince his wife to NOT abandon him (which really seems like an unlikely scenario), or will Marky Mark get his way long enough to get bored with his family again and leave them twisting in the wind? Can this AT LEAST be better than The Other Guys? Please?
The problem with the movie is that the central conflict has no business taking up as much of the running time as it does here. You take one god damn look at Marky Mark’s lone wolf persona (that’s trying WAY too hard to look badass) and you know exactly how his story is going to end. I spent a lot of the movie just wishing that Will Ferrell wouldn’t stoop to his level and would just ride this out until Marky Mark realizes that he ain’t cut out to be a father which would have happened A LOT sooner if Will Ferrell had just backed off. Instead we get way too many scenes of wacky shenanigans as these two try to alpha male each other over and over again. I might have been able to enjoy these moments more if there was just a bit more nuance to the material, but the movie is just too broad for any of it to be all that interesting. Do we SERIOUSLYL need 3 scene of Marky Mark talking bedtime stories to his kids which are just thinly veiled attacks on Will Ferrell?
I will say that the movie’s portrayal of Marky Mark’s manipulation techniques is fucking brutal and really well executed. His scheme isn’t to bully Will Ferrell into leaving; it’s to twist everything he says and does and to foster an atmosphere where the guy isn’t welcome. We’ve seen this kind of asshole before (boy, the Killgrave comparisons just won’t stop this year!) and it’s a really good template to model a villain off of, especially when he’s written as sharply as he is here. The problem with this character though is that he can’t just being manipulative jerk, he has to be perfect in every way and he has to be able to convince people who shouldn’t be falling for his tactics into falling in love with him. He looks cool, he’s a perfect handyman, he has a job fighting terrorists or something, he knows a whole bunch of celebrities that he can show off in front of his kids and his ex-wife, and for no reason at all he has the dulcet tones of a reincarnated Casey Kasem. How good is his voice (and also how stupid does this movie get?); Will Ferrell works as a producer at a radio station, and the first time Marky Mark goes to see him, he gets hired to do the voice for the station and immediately starts making more than Will Ferrell. In fact, by the end of the movie it seems like he’s making millions which makes no fucking sense that a RADIO STATION (a smooth jazz radio station) could be handing out royalty checks that large. I don’t know, maybe they needed that much stupidity in here because the alternative would be a lot more sinister and this movie isn’t trying to go for a dark comedy route where Marky Mark is what an ACTUAL manipulative shitbag would be like. That doesn’t change the fact though that so much of this movie is really insufferable because you just can’t buy into anything this movie is trying to sell you on. On top of that, it some of the jokes just aren’t as well thought out as you’d hope. There’s a scene where Marky Mark has built a half pipe in the backyard and is showing off when Will Ferrel pulls a skateboard out of his closet. He dusts the bad boy off and it looks like he’s gonna soar through the air on that thing like the love child of Tony Hawk and an actual birdman, but then they just go with a joke that doesn’t benefit from his actual skills and it ends just as you see in the trailer. Why even bother giving him a backstory about being a talented skateboarder (the board he’s carrying has clearly seen some mileage) when it’s not put to any use? Hell, it even clashes with other things we find out about the character that a kid as timid as he was would still be a bad ass skate punk.
Probably the worst example of this movie not giving a fuck or thinking the story through is the scene at the NBA PLAYOFF GAME WITH THE LAKERS THAT’S SPONOSRED BY TROPICAL SMOOTHIE CAFÉ!!!!! Yeah… right off the bad the sheer number of product placements in this scene annoyed me and it lacks any sort of subtly so you feel like you’re watching a commercial. Not only that, but this is the turning point in the movie where Will Ferrell does something bad enough to be thrown out of the house for a couple of days before the obvious reconciliation. The problem is that Will Ferrell hasn’t done a god damn thing wrong this entire movie and the lengths they have to go for him to cross the line are ludicrous. NOT ONLY does Marky Mark know the team’s coach (yet another thing to piss off Will Ferrell), his wife finds out how much was spent on these tickets to impress the kids which puts Will in an even WORSE mood which causes him to drink. ON TOP OF THAT, he wins the chance to throw a midcourt basket (the Staples Center holds 18,118 seats so his chances of getting that chance are almost one in twenty-thousand), and it’s clear right off the fucking bat that the dude is drunk as a skunk yet let him hold the mic for a long ass time. I’m sorry, has this NEVER fucking happened? They have NO IDEA how to handle someone who’s had too much to drink at a god damn SPORTING EVENT? Just weak ass jokes on top of an unbelievable scenario end up sucking away any enjoyment from this scene and just makes the fallout from it that much more uninteresting.
I also don’t know why the wife Sara (Linda Cardellini) is letting ANY of this go on. Hell, once she kicks out Will Ferrell, she sets Marky Mark straight which… I don’t know… should have PROBABLY happened the day he showed by back up and tried to insert himself into their family again? Now clearly I’m NOT in her situation and Will Ferrell isn’t ALWAYS right in the movie, but her turnaround at the crisis point of the movie is something she easily could have done right away and is basically what she was telling Will Ferrell to do from the beginning. What was the point of her hemming and hawing through the movie while these two had a pissing match? Why let Will Ferrell get caught up in the guy’s bullshit when she knows just how manipulative the jerk can be? Oh I know why. Because if people acted right (in the sense that she already knew what she was going to do but delayed doing it for no reason) we wouldn’t have a fucking movie.
So the movie only works sporadically for most of its run time, but it still manages to start strong and it ends really well. I guess if you cut out about 45 minutes into the middle of the movie, then this would actually be a pretty smart and heartfelt short or something. That or they could have just run with what was so endearing about the way it starts and ends. Watching Will Ferrell try to bond with his new step children is genuinely enjoyable even if he is kind of an unrealistic square. Alternatively, once Marky Mark realizes all that will Ferrell does for the family and what it truly means to be a father, he gets some real respect for the guy. Sure, they still conflict from time to time, but I like that they come to an understanding here. If they did go this route, it would probably be getting too close into sitcom gimmick territory by having movie about Marky Mark and Will Ferrell getting along (one family, two dads, ALL hilarity!), but the scenes where they aren’t at each other’s throats really were the best part of the movie.
I also LOVE how this is pretty much an inversion of the typical romantic comedy formula that needs to be ridiculed and (hopefully) laid to rest. How many shitty movies are out there where we follow the ex-husband around as he tries to get back with his ex-wife who’s either just about to get married or is already married? Hell, even one of the best super hero movies of all time does this when Mary Jane leaves John Jameson at the alter in Spider-Man 2! It just romanticized the idea of ONE TRUE LOVE which usually translates to FIRST LOVE, no matter how shitty the relationship is, and it also reinforces the idea that HE CAN CHANGE or I CAN CHANGE HIM WITH MY LOVE and all that bullshit that just doesn’t work in the real world. Will Ferrell is a damn good person if a bit unrealistically uptight, and proves that it takes more than sperm to be a dad. That’s the moral of the story here and I fucking love it. Hell, they even throw in a bit about violence not solving anything. In the middle of the movie, one of the few times Marky Mark and Will Ferrell get along somewhat is when they’re teaching the son how to defend himself, but this gets brilliantly turns around at the very end and it’s just another example of how this movie COULD have been great if they ran with these premises instead of the alpha male douchebag competition for the entire second act. Also, if we’re getting back to the positives, Thomas Haden Church and Hannibal Buress have pretty sizeable supporting roles in here and they’re both hilarious for the most part. They are really the only two actors who were keeping this afloat when I was tuning out of the middle part of the movie.
Is this one of Will Ferrell’s worst? Not even close. It’s at least watchable which is more than can be said about dreck like The Other Guys or Semi-Pro, but it’s sadly everything we would expect from a Will Ferrell movie. Actually, it’s a bit worse than that because despite doing everything we’ve grown tired of seeing from him and his movies, this one DID show potential at the beginning and end, which only reinforces how much better it could have been if it had taken a few more risks. It’s really not worth seeing at the theater, but if you like these two actors, then it’s probably worth seeing at some point. Maybe his next role will be another one of his risker performances! Oh no wait, Zoolander 2 is coming out soon. Damn it!
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