The last time actors Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell were teamed together, it was in the fun financial comedy The Other Guys. (Ironically, the director of their last film has a new financial comedy out this weekend as well, The Big Short.) Reteamed, but with Sex Drive director Sean Anders at the helm, the duo's latest film, Daddy's Home mines comedy out of painful and all too relatable situations. The problem, though, is the comedy that comes out is nothing but cartoonish slapstick as opposed to finding the true awkward humor of the situation.
Brad (Ferrell) is the stepfather to two precocious kids who aren't really sure if they like him. Desperate for their approval, Brad is threatened by the arrival of the children's biological father Dusty (Wahlberg). Dusty has come to get his family back, leading to a series of hijinks between father and stepfather.
There are glimmers of possibility in Daddy's Home, odd since the jokes should write themselves. Brad and Dusty competing for the children's affections is simple enough, but placing the duo under the same roof should be something brought up constantly, yet it goes completely under the radar. We're also given incredibly surface reasons to either like or despite both men. Brad is a straight-arrow who, despite being dependable, Isn't exactly exciting; Dusty is a shiftless layabout but he's good-looking and takes risks. As a child of divorce, Brad should have way more moments of pure bonding with the children, and, if anything, the relationship with Dusty should at least yield a couple feelings of resentment from the young kids who never question their dad's continued absence or disinterest in them. We also lack any true heart-to-hearts between Brad and his wife, played by an utterly wasted Linda Cardellini. She has a huge stake in this. Not sure her ex-husband being under her roof – which, again, should be mentioned constantly – but how it's affecting her marriage and children. There is a reason these two got divorced after all?
Instead, the film wants you to laugh at repetitive scenes of Brad being thrown into walls – leading to thousands in property damage and possible death if this was reality – and looking like a buffoon in front of the kids. If you've watched the various trailers you've witnessed every money shot Daddy's Home has to offer. The film easily wears out its welcome before concluding in 96 minutes and that's because there's absolutely no depth to the situations or characters. Had this been taken a smidge more seriously the comedy could have worked out.
The actors are all fine, but none of them are taxing themselves. Ferrell and Wahlberg continue to enjoy working with each other, even if their characters are boring personalities they've played countless times. Cardellini looks concerned, and the children are cute.
Daddy's Home wastes a decent premise and becomes another Ferrell venture. For every Talladega Nights or Anchorman we get a Campaign or Semi-Pro and the latter is where Daddy's Home falls.