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There's no place like home for the holidays. Every year we're told as much, and it's a sentiment that still holds up. But if your home was filled with vicious relatives that couldn't get along and a chaotic atmosphere that only brought more disaster with each coming day, you'd probably find a nice hotel somewhere and ride out the storm in the comfort of some solitude. But if you can't escape real life relatives that do activities things during the holidays, you can take comfort in one thing you can skip this holiday season: Daddy's Home 2.
Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) and Brad (Will Ferrell) have changed a lot since the first time we saw them. Their co-dad'ing skills are sharp, their friendship is strong, and everything seems to be working out fine. With the Christmas season upon them, and the pressure of another two house celebration getting to everyone involved, it's decided that this year will be one, big, two family celebration -- complete with two very different grandpas (Mel Gibson and John Lithgow). Needless to say, chaos ensues, old wounds are opened, and a cell tower is destroyed.
If you haven't seen Daddy's Home and are afraid you've missed all the set-up you need to enjoy for Daddy's Home 2, don't be: almost every gag from the first film is repeated in the sequel, right down to the product placement friendly dialogue praising the glory of the Ford Flex. Admittedly, comedy sequels are hard, as coming up with fresh gags for an established pair is rough, resulting in some more obvious dialogue. But if you didn't laugh at Will Ferrell crashing a motorcycle into a Ford Flex in Daddy's Home, then you'll probably grimace when he manages the same feat with a snowblower.
And for a film that's supposed to celebrate Christmas, Daddy's Home 2 barely touches the yuletide season-- except for some late third act action and a running joke involving Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas Time?" Other than that, the same mean spirited dickery that prevailed throughout Daddy's Home shines right through its successor, only there's now two granddads, another mom, and another stepdad in the mix. And despite the comedic chops of folks like John Cena, Mel Gibson, and John Lithgow, there's no saving Daddy's Home 2 from taking after its cinematic father.
There are a couple positives that come out of Daddy's Home 2, and for a moment it feels like a totally different movie could have saved the franchise. Between the moments of tit-for-tat between Mel Gibson and John Lithgow, and one multi-dad gag involving the thermostat of the cabin they're all sharing, there's actually some laughs to be mined from this boring ore. The chemistry between the granddads is so good in the fleeting moments it's allowed to shine that if they were to propose a spin-off following the two men's exploits, as hinted at the end of thefilm, an R-rated version of such a prospect could be a funny concept. At the very least, it'd be funnier than two Daddy's Home movies put together. Hell, the PG-13 Christmas action thriller within the movie, Missile Tow, would have been a better experience, as that film was at least intended to be ridiculous and cliched, with Liam Neeson as its knowing lead.
Daddy's Home 2 is as much of a mean-spirited, emasculating, uneven celebration of both the alpha and beta male stereotypes as Daddy's Home was before. They just decided to dress it in an ugly Christmas sweater this time out. Being the total antithesis of a feel good holiday movie, it provides us with two more entertaining films that could have taken its place, and lets us only dream about those better days. It is as lazy as it is unfunny, dragging an hour and forty minute window into an eternity of pain. If anything, this is the movie Mark Wahlberg should hope Jesus forgives him for.