Director: Sean Anders
Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini
Release Date: 26th December 2015 (UK)
There is perhaps no better pairing to play two warring, contrasting father figures than Ferrell and Wahlberg. The premise alone sells itself to fans of both, and from motorcycle slapstick to throwing a basketball in a cheerleader’s face, this comedy delivers exactly what it is says on the tin.
Will Ferrell is the unpopular new dad to two children in a typical American suburbia. After desperately trying to persuade his Daughter not to draw pictures of his death, she finally comes around and accepts him. Things are great, life is sweet. Enter Wahlberg – he has attitude, he has a bike, and he has a six pack. Of beer. Naturally, to the impressionable young kids, this is the cool dad, and his charm goes a long way to both winning over the neighbourhood and winning over Brad (Ferrell). That is until the cracks start to show, and Dusty’s real motives become clear.
This is where you would expect the film to descend into a macho prank war, as one hilariously attempts to outdo the other, but actually it’s less Revenge of the Nerds and more Bridesmaids, with some real heart that makes this better than your average silly comedy. There are moments of raucous visual comedy, but they succeed in their scarcity, so when Brad drunkenly but accidentally batters a young lady with sports equipment, it’s funny. When Brad tries to demonstrate his bike skills and flings himself through the first floor window of his house, it’s funny. There is no overkill, which makes the film all the more watchable.
However, this is likely not a comedy that will stand the test of time. It’s very dated with nothing groundbreaking about the plot, narrative or feel. You go in expecting a Will Ferrell comedy and you get one, but this is no Anchorman.
The final act is rather sad, or as sad as a comedy will allow itself to be, and though the ending is quite predictable it plays out well and reserves a couple of laughs for the end. However, the obvious set up of a sequel was not appreciated, and should not be made under any circumstances. Do you hear me, Hollywood? Stay away!
The little experienced director Sean Anders proves once again that he is well-versed in the conventions of comedy, but does little to prove he’s a pioneer of anything new. What he does prove is consistently, perhaps more so than most in this genre, and with Daddy’s Home he gives us another shelf and schedule filler that offends none and amuses most.