Movie Review: 'Daddy's Home 2'
'Daddy's Home' Sequel One of the Worst of 2017
I can’t feel bad for the makers of Daddy’s Home 2; the movie is too poorly made for me to feel bad for anyone involved, aside from the poor children who didn’t know any better. That said, there is part of me that sort of tilts my head to the side and thinks “awe, that’s a shame.”Daddy’s Home 2 has unfortunate timing, arriving as it does with its wildly awkward take on masculine identity, and with Mel Gibson in tow, Daddy’s Home 2 is like the guy who arrives at a party late, unaware that things have gotten awkward, and proceeds to make things even more cringeworthy through their ignorance.
Daddy’s Home 2 stars Mark Wahlberg as Dusty and Will Ferrell as Brad. The two are father and step-father to a pair of adorable little kids and have found a détente in the warring relationship the two carried throughout the mediocre and forgettable first Daddy’s Home. In this sequel, Dusty and Brad are friends who keep their animosity at bay well enough to believe they are friends. To this end, they’ve decided that their two families can have a together Christmas, so as to not have to shuttle the kids back and forth.
Unfortunately for Dusty, his dad Kurt (Gibson) has picked this year to come visit for Christmas. Dusty and Kurt have a strained relationship over Kurt’s notions of masculinity which begins and ends with the kind of old school womanizing that Don Draper might find passé. Kurt comes off the plane eager to belittle his son for being friendly with the step-father of his kids, finding this to be some sort of failure of his manhood. That this attitude is espoused by a character played by Mel Gibson, President of the Hollywood He-Man Woman-Haters club, makes these notions more than a little awkward.
That said, these ideas might not be so bad if Gibson were the subject of the joke, but instead, the makers of Daddy’s Home 2 choose to deify Gibson’s manliness, with Ferrell awkwardly praising his masculinity in a way that should be funny but isn’t because it’s Mel Gibson and not someone whose masculinity has proven to be of the toxic variety. Gibson is treated like a conquering hero as he enters the film accompanied by AC/DC’s "Thunderstruck" and flirts with women half his age who are directed to immediately accept his creepy old guy posturing.
Gibson is the ostensible antagonist of Daddy’s Home 2, on hand to upend the progressive, happy dynamic that Dusty and Brad have forged in the best interest of the children. Despite that, however, the movie indulges in treating Gibson as if his Kurt is an old-school man’s man whose ugly qualities are the actions of someone who is just cool; he’s aloof, he’s someone to be admired because he still believes in the boys-will-be-boys ethos.
Unfortunately, boys-will-be-boys is just the kind of attitude that has allowed Hollywood’s pervasive culture of sexual harassment and assault to fester as it has so very publicly in recent months. Daddy’s Home 2 pretending that Gibson is just old school cool rather than a being espousing a toxic and outdated notion of manhood is excruciatingly awkward; though, in fairness, it was rather par for the course when the film went into production, prior to the revelations regarding Harvey Weinstein, among others.
In the post #MeToo world, however, it’s impossible to forget Gibson’s sins. Gibson’s angry misogynist screeds against his then-girlfriend in 2011, when he threatened to murder her, may have been related to alcohol, but he’s done little to make anyone forget his actions. That the makers of Daddy’s Home 2 thought that now would be a good time to use Gibson as a prop joke of old school masculinity that they would also hold up as somehow virtuous is a phenomenal failure to read the cultural room.
That Daddy’s Home 2 is also a screamingly bad movie doesn’t help matters. The film is utterly chaotic from beginning to end, with Ferrell and John Lithgow, playing Brad's father, screaming every punchline as if volume would somehow make a bad joke funny. Wahlberg, on the other hand, is almost non-existent. Dusty has few notable qualities and none of them very funny, aside of the odd way he pronounces the word "cocoa." Wahlberg seems bored in most scenes and uncomfortable in others, barely raising his volume enough to be heard in any scene that doesn’t call for everyone involved to be screaming.
Despite the chaos, the film drags its way from one unfunny notion to the next. Scenes set up for hours and pay off with a thud even as most of the actors are screeching their performances to the heavens hoping, I assume, that loud would turn into funny but it never does. The badness of Daddy’s Home 2 only makes the one-note joke of casting of Gibson worse because there is little else to distract you from the mindless, thudding chaos on screen.
Daddy’s Home 2 is one of the worst films of 2017.