Five years after forming a weirdly amusing double act in clumsy cop spoof The Other Guys, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg finally reteam for this pleasant but predictable comedy from Sean Anders, only this time they are on opposing sides as warring dads battling to win their kids’ affections.
Ferrell is Brad, a nebbish radio executive who, despite leaving inspirational notes in their backpacks and offering handy conflict resolution techniques, struggles to win the hearts of his wife Sara’s two children, Megan (Scarlett Estevez) and Dylan (Own Vaccaro). But just when he finally seems to be making headway with the adorable ragamuffins, Brad’s status as the family’s material and moral provider is rocked by the news that Sara’s ex-husband Dusty is making an unexpected visit.
With his badass leather jacket, slick-back hair and muscles sculpted by the gods, Dusty’s arrival immediately intimidates Brad, especially when he sees how effortlessly Megan and Dylan reconnect with their biological father. It quickly becomes clear Dusty is hell-bent on driving Brad out of his kids’ lives and winning back his ex-wife, but Ferrell’s mild-mannered husband isn’t prepared to give up his new-found family without a fight.
What follows is a good old-fashioned dad-off as Brad and Dusty go to outrageous lengths to out-do each other over who can tell the better bedtime story, bust the better tricks on a halfpipe and offer the better advice on how to take-down a gang of bullies. Anders stretches all the mileage out of Dusty’s repeated attempts to emasculate his wimpy rival – including a literal dick-swinging contest during a visit to Bobby Cannavale’s fertility doctor – but the one-note gag isn’t fresh or inventive enough to sustain a 96-minute movie. It’s funny in patches, the stand-out sequence being a disastrous trip to an LA Lakers’ game that ends with a sozzled Brad accidentally braining a cheerleader with a basketball, but the laughs are few and far between causing the second act to drag as a consequence.
Though they are only playing their usual hackneyed personas, Ferrell and Wahlberg still come-off as a winning, likeable and funny double act largely thanks to their improbable odd-couple chemistry. However, Thomas Haden Church and Hannibal Buress are wasted in odd-ball supporting roles as Brad’s boss and a freeloading handyman respectively, while the talented Linda Cardellini is reduced to eye-rolling and arm-crossing as Brad’s exasperated housewife.
The end is of course dripping in syrupy sentiment, which at least leaves a warm, fuzzy feeling inside, but the dearth of genuinely funny ideas throughout will ensure you’ve likely lost interest long before it gets that far.
Runtime: 96 mins; Genre: Comedy; Released: 25 December 2015;
Director: Sean Anders; Writers: Brian Burns, Sean Anders;
Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini, Hannibal Buress
Click here to watch a trailer for Daddy’s Home