Daddy’s Home 2 (2017)

“We’re back, with more Daddies.”

Not to sound all woe is me, but reviewing a film like Daddy’s Home 2 is hard. How do you unequivocally pan a movie that you know many will enjoy and (hopefully not) possibly even love? What’s the best way to tear off the band-aid and to air out the wound? To rip the baby tooth out of a scared child’s mouth? Experience teaches us that it’s best to get things over with quickly, and that will be my method of critique. So, I’ll just put it out there: Daddy’s Home 2 is one of the absolute worst comedies I have ever seen. Stop right there if you don’t care to be further insulted, or continue reading and, unlike most discussions nowadays, take the time to see things from a disagreeable perspective. The goal of criticism isn’t to change your mind, but only to plant a seed of doubt. And here…we…go.

Brad (Will Ferrell) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) seem to have this co-parenting thing down pat. Following their one-on-one game of PIG in the first feature, Brad picks the kids up from school while Dusty directs the line of cars. They’re friends. Brad’s the step-father to Dusty’s kids with Sara (Linda Cardellini) and the Dad to their own little boy. Meanwhile, Dusty is married to Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio) and failing in his attempt to parent her spoiled rotten and cell-phone addicted daughter. We can tell things still aren’t exactly right between the two Dads, and the stress of Christmas only accentuates their bromance drama. That alone is the single expansion pack this already thin premise required. The last thing that this largely thoughtless, offensively cruel endeavor needed was a couple more daddies to stir the pot. In they go, adding age and a putrid smell to this criminal seafood stew. For reference, in most cases that cup of fish soup you see on a restaurant’s menu and contemplate ordering is actually old product. Daddy’s Home 2 serves up a bowl that’ll induce dry heaving.

Of course, the grand-daddies are coming to pay a visit. Don (John Lithgow) kisses his adult son on the lips, they’re giddy, finally reuniting since Thanksgiving. Shouldn’t it worry Brad that Mom isn’t with Dad? No, because he’s an oblivious and trite Clark Griswold. Meanwhile, Kurt (Mel Gibson) phones his boy Dusty after five years and decides to hop on the holiday train. Kurt scoffs behind his curtain of strained masculinity, rousing the troops into battle mode to force drama into the film’s big break-up before the finale. Daddy’s Home 2 has an innocuous and boringly safe beginning, a middle rife with so much physical humor that it makes audiences laugh the same way a reflex hammer makes your leg kick, and an ending that quite literally puts these intensely unlikable people up on a stage in a movie theater lobby as they sing out and bask in their praise. Had this film been real, and had I been witnessing this monstrosity in person, I’d have either gone to sit in the bathroom or walked through the doors into the blizzard outside. Daddy’s Home 2 is a film that positions its audience as co-conspirator bullies, and it tries to make you laugh at people who are weak or kind or those who show emotion. The film celebrates its devilishly Scrooge outlook. Outside of softcore porno parodies and Santa filled slasher pics, I have a hard time imagining a film with a setting so dependent on Christmas cheer that’s also this debased, foolish, and hedonistic.

Besides a single tire that explodes from the onset, Daddy’s Home 2 is no worse than the middling original. Ferrell has good chemistry with Lithgow and both deliver easy laughs. Wahlberg basically dead-eyes the camera in every scene, but he’s decent. The kids can’t act but they’re clearly trying and learning. Neither film knows when to shut the hell up and listen. But the black hole that sucks every ounce of life out of this movie is Gibson, a man who’s forgotten how to behave in front of a camera and is so desperate to repair his irreparable image that he mocks the very accusations made against him. It’s disgusting to watch. Can you imagine a known anti-Semite dressing up in a nativity scene? Check. Can you picture an alcohol abuser laughing at a drunk 9-year-old girl? Check. Can you fathom a recorded sexual assaulter telling a young boy to force a kiss onto a little girl then smack her on the caboose (and even later, referencing that same forward advance as striking a spare bowling pin?) Check. Now imagine yourself watching a film starring Harvey Weinstein while he tells a woman to watch him shower. A movie where Bill Cosby slips a drug into a drink. Something where Kevin Spacey coerces underage men. Would you still be laughing? Gibson has taken on this role as a hope that time can heal all wounds while forgetting the internal clocks of his victims, and this monster, whose performance is worse than that of a damn Gremlin, even looks to be taking pride in his desperate attempt to make amends with audiences who should know better by now. Daddy’s Home 2 is a below average film that is complicit in trying to salvage a star that’s already self-imploded from his own destruction. I won’t stand for it.

“I’d rather look into a loaded gun.”

Rating: 0 out of 5

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