Daddy's Home 2
A pleasant surprise of the 2015 Christmas release slate, Daddy’s Home built on the chemistry of The Other Guys co-stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg and made a strong argument that the PG-13 comedy wasn’t dead.
Two years later, the leads and director Sean Anders double down on the series’ potential in a sequel that not only bests its predecessor in every conceivable way but ranks among the year’s top comedies, seasonal or otherwise.
Filmed in Boston and elsewhere in Massachusetts, Daddy’s Home 2 further proves the hypothesis that Wahlberg does his best work in his home state.
The follow-up finds former rivals Dusty (Wahlberg) and Brad (Ferrell) embracing co-parenting — basically one non-stop carousel of going comedically above and beyond for their kids — and primed to be heroes of their interconnected family for agreeing to spend Christmas together instead of bouncing from one house to another.
Brad’s father Don (John Lithgow) is already expected at this gathering, and though Dusty’s estranged pappy Kurt (Mel Gibson, fully embracing his social enemy status) is not, he invites himself anyway, despite his son’s objections.
Yes, that’s pretty much a masculine twist on the premise of A Bad Moms Christmas, yet the gender swap tops its competition at each turn while miraculously staying within its non-R rated boundaries.
As the jumbo family — so large that it’s a little difficult to keep track of which child belongs to whom — heads to a deluxe, unrealistically well-stocked AirBnB house for the holidays, the brilliant intergenerational casting of the core male foursome yields plenty of laughs from the collision of good-natured innocence and bad boy recklessness.
Though Daddy’s Home 2 isn’t out to push any grand message beyond the importance of being honest with loved ones and doesn't exactly provide great roles for its multiple female characters, much like fellow 2017 sequel Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, each time the story has an opportunity to veer toward schmaltz, it undercuts the Hallmark moment with an unexpected, gut-busting line or action.
Another welcome detail is that almost every seemingly throwaway line in the film eventually works its way back into the plot. Such smart writing is unusual for what at its core is a dumb comedy — a designation that’s a badge of honor when done this well.
Grade: B-plus. Rated PG-13. Now playing at AMC Classic, Biltmore Grande and Carolina Cinemark
(Photo: Paramount Pictures)