Film Review – Daddy’s Home (2015)

Daddy's Home Ferrell Whalberg

Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell have, I’m told, comedic pedigree together. Whatever previous good work they may have done seems to have passed me by though. I did see that one movie The Other Guys, but found it to be about as funny as an earthquake at a petting zoo. Regardless, the chief pleasure to be found watching Daddy’s Home, according to the promotional material at any rate, appears to be a chance to see the Wahlberg/Ferrell comedy duo back together.

Ferrell plays Brad, the beta-male stepfather of a couple of little bundles of joy with whom he is enjoying a blossoming relationship. He is happily filling the shoes of Dusty (Wahlberg) the absent father, the typical rock and roll type who’s high on thrill factor, muscles and motorcycles but low on stability, responsibility or a recurring income. Needless to say, Brad’s domestic bliss is ruined when Dusty reappears on the scene attempting to reconnect with his kids, undermining Brad’s family bliss and making him feel inferior to boot.

To be fair to both men, The Other Guys aside, both Wahlberg and Ferrell are comically capable given the correct material and an astute director. Daddy’s Home provides them with neither. Ostensibly a succession of feebly telegraphed gags in which the two men attempt to outdo each other in a dispiriting game of one-upmanship in a bid to impress the kids and eminently patient wife Sara (Linda Cardellini), the movie resolutely, firmly remains on autopilot throughout. There is so, so little on show to laugh at and just looking at Wahlberg and Ferrell’s faces you can see they know as much. Wahlberg coasts through the show with a perpetual look of confusion tattooed across his face, while Ferrell shows absolutely no spark whatsoever. Far be it from me to suggest that neither man was particularly committed to the project, but there is a sense that the movie exists for no more reason than to kill a bit of time and provide all concerned with an easy pay check. I note with interest that Ferrell has a producer credit, so perhaps this is a case of keeping up the sense of momentum brought about by The Other Guys and turning a quick profit.

I would say this is a film that rides too heavily on the back of a good comedic reputation, but I never found this duo’s previous work together particularly funny in the first place. That said, I did laugh twice during the film’s 94 minutes: once right at the start and once right at the end, so if your expectations are suitably low you may not leave too disappointed.

★★
Chris Banks

comedy | USA, 12A | Paramount Pictures UK | 26th December 2015 (UK) |Dir.Sean Anders | Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini, Thomas Haden Church, Hannibal Buress