It seems to be now that the formula for Will Ferrell movies are a mix of a basic loose premise and another actor or comedian to pair him up with. At the end of March he led Get Hard with Kevin Hart which was about a white collar criminal getting taught how to be ready for prison. Guess what? It was awful. For his next theatrical release with him leading he reteams with Mark Wahlberg for Daddy’s Home, a step-dad versus real dad comedy. The plot description is literally as short as that. Heck, the pitch was probably exactly that. It really kind of sours how good their first team up The Other Guys was.
I remember watching a South Park episode called “Awesome-O” a number of years back where Cartman disguised as a robot who gave out Adam Sandler movie plot ideas, parodying how he makes his films. I feel like this is just a heightened for hilarity version of the truth and it definitely applies to the crap Ferrell has churned out in 2015. He has become a parody of himself and he’s a movie or two away from dropping to Sandler’s level. Daddy’s Home might accelerate it a bit as he shoehorns in every single “Ferrell-ism” possible in ninety minutes.
The movie is about Brad (Ferrell) who lives to be a great dad to his two step-kids, the children of his new wife Sarah (Linda Cardellini). Always battling that mountain of “You’re not my Dad,” Brad waits for that special moment when the kids finally accept him and embrace him. Instead, they get a phone call from Sarah’s ex-husband Dusty (Wahlberg), who doesn’t know she’s seeing Brad. Immediately, Dusty says he’s coming to visit the kids.
From here on out we get a competition of who’s the better dad as the sweetheart Brad tries to win over the kids affection from the manipulative games that Dusty plays. Dusty enforces his alpha male dominance in every way, while still playing the nice guy towards Brad. There is really a limited plot in this one, so it’s best not to tell anymore and unfortunately, unlike The Other Guys, the Ferrell/Wahlberg chemistry isn’t anywhere to be found in this one.
The funnier moments come when Brad gets unsolicited and horrible advice from his boss (Thomas Haden Church), which is usually a backwards story about him being a blindly aloof idiot in one of his numerous marriages. The only other passable moments come from comedian Hannibal Buress, who plays Griff, a handyman that Dusty talks Brad into firing. The result ends up labeling Brad as a racist and strengthens a friendship between Griff and Dusty. I say this is all passable but not worthy of your time or money.
This whole film seems to be made in a rush. Director Sean Anders has films on his resume that I’ve been satisfied with. Sex Drive was a fun little road trip comedy, the gag reel cut is actually an interesting watch on DVD, and That’s My Boy is an Adam Sandler film that has an insanity to it that must be seen to be believed. I feel dirty now that I’ve recommended a Sandler film but it’s within a Ferrell review so there’s already a level of griminess. The point is Anders does nothing to elevate this film beyond the terrible and limiting premise. It’s the lowest and easiest jokes possible, consistently aiming for low hanging fruit.
As an audience that has seen a lot when it comes to comedy, Daddy’s Home is a stale and low laugh garnering pay cheque for these two formally bankable stars. This film is probably the worst film opening on Christmas Day (pending my screening of the Point Break remake) and would likely ruin your holiday like getting coal in your stocking. It seems like the learning curve of studios putting out garbage like this is very, very slow and I expect more like this in 2016. For a reviewer it’s a bit like being pelted with bean bags of mediocrity that we have to grade while licking our wounds. This is the only good part, when I get to say that Daddy’s Home gets a one out of five. Now I feel justified.