Who's your daddy? Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg go toe-to-toe to win the affection of their kids in goofy family comedy, Daddy's Home.
Remarriages are always a little awkward, especially when you've got kids involved; but, for Brad (Will Ferrell), things are going pretty swell with his new wife Sara (Linda Cardellini) and her two kids, Dylan (Owen Vaccaro) and Megan (Scarlett Estevez). That is until her ex-husband Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) rolls back into town with the intent of picking up where he left off.
Locked in a battle of wits against the much more macho Dusty, Brad feels the need outdo him at everything - whether it's storytime, home reno or skateboarding. As the flexing becomes increasingly wayward, the two competing alpha males begin to make idiots of one another, distancing the already confused Sara in the process.
If you're a fan of Ferrell and Wahlberg, and were hoping for something similar to their previous film, The Other Guys, you may feel as though Daddy's Home is a little too PG. Whereas their hugely-popular buddy cop comedy definitely wasn't for kids, this more recent affair is angled firmly towards a more family audience, hence the much lower rating.
Or, so I thought - I was surprised by the amount of swearing that was deemed okay with the censors in the film, with the lead duo not being shy with dropping the odd dozen swear words. For a film that felt like it was consciously making the effort to keep things fairly tame, this felt like an odd creative decision that will no doubt put off some parents. There is also an extended sequence set inside a fertility clinic that pokes fun at having your balls fondled by a stranger and then wanking into a cup. Just keep this in mind before you head down to the theatre with your 8-year-old girl.
Narratively speaking, Daddy's Home is a fairly conventional comedy that hits all the major story beats as you would expect. Rivalries are forged, mistakes are made and lessons are learnt - the whole creative process is quick and unremarkable, a merely forgettable jaunt that is fun enough for a quiet afternoon but barely enough to warrant anything more than matinee price. The lead duo share a great onscreen charisma, that much is true - but the indecisiveness when it comes to tone means that neither are truly allowed to let rip on the other. Ferrell plays the gurning dork he always does, whilst Wahlberg plays a muscly douchebag with an unsettling scowl that barely disguises his eagerness to deck anyone out of line.
So, he's essentially playing himself.
The character I liked most was Sara, played with warmth and charm by Linda Cardellini. Caught between the feuding men, her character comes across as much more than just an exasperated housewife who can't keep the men in check. I honestly didn't care which guy she ended up with because it felt like she wouldn't take any of their crap regardless #TeamSara
Like most comedies nowadays, the technical elements that go into making Daddy's Home are nothing to write home about. Direction, soundtrack, editing; it's just simple and effective, a routine mission to push the movie out as cheaply as possible. Unfortunately, this just means that the film disappears into the crowd about an hour after the credits roll.
There is a cool cameo though, right at the end. Stick around for that, if you can stay awake that long.
The Verdict: 5/10
One or two solid laughs aren't enough to save Daddy's Home from mediocrity. The mismatched tone and unmistakably conventional script keep the film from a passing grade. Both Ferrell and Wahlberg have been sillier, riskier and funnier in other projects.
Daddy's Home is in cinemas across Australia now.