Back when the original Daddy’s Home was released, I was a little excited about the prospect of a sequel in which the now-friendly fathers from the first film fight with the celebrity cameo at the end of it: John Cena. That … doesn’t really come to fruition here, unfortunately. Cena’s in the movie, sure, but outside of maybe two scenes, there isn’t much fighting and he doesn’t even get to make more than one or two jokes. And if you’ve seen Trainwreck or Sisters, you know he can be funny.
Instead, we’re doing the same thing that A Bad Moms Christmas tried just a week ago, but with the dads’ fathers instead of the moms’ mothers. But let’s rewind for a second for those of you who missed the original. Brad (Will Ferrell) is a timid man who is now married to Sara (Linda Cardellini), with whom he has one child. Her ex is the tough Dusty (Mark Wahlberg), and the first film saw the two males fight for supremacy in the eyes of both Sara and the two children she had while with Dusty. At the end, the two became friends and Dusty married Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio), who has one daughter of her own with Roger (Cena).
So, now it’s a couple of years later and it’s Christmastime, because you can sell Christmas comedies easier than normal comedies, I suppose. Dusty’s father, Kurt (Mel Gibson), and Brad’s father, Don (John Lithgow), are coming for the holidays. Kurt thinks his son’s become something of a joke and spends the majority of the movie (1) trying to cause Dusty and Brad to fight or (2) giving bad advice to his grandchildren. Don is happier and softer, but is harboring a secret of his own.
Don’t worry if that seems like a lot of characters and motives, because Daddy’s Home Two isn’t particularly interested in exploring any of them. None of it matters. Actions rarely impact the scenes that follow and for the most part exist to give us a slapstick gag in the moment and then move on. Most of them don’t quite hit home. They might get a chuckle out of you but for the most part aren’t going to get the big laughs you hope for out of your comedies.
Daddy’s Home Two has got nothing to offer. So much of it feels inconsequential.
A few of them are also morally questionable, especially in a movie that’s supposedly for the entire family. Kurt’s dating advice for one of the children is awful, for instance, and the joke is that he’s not great and the advice is bad (it’s literally sexual assault). But then, later in the film, that advice is followed and … well, you’ll see. It’s not the part of that scene that’ll have people up in arms, even though it probably should be on at least equal ground. The film doesn’t condemn it, is the point. Nobody ever tells the kid that it’s wrong.
Other scenes include children getting drunk, their parents finding out and never disciplining them, a bizarre shoplifting subplot, one of the child characters becoming a sociopath out of nowhere—there’s a lot in this movie that doesn’t exactly scream “family fun,” okay? Some of it’s funny but in a very disposable way. That was also true of the first Daddy’s Home, but at least its characters acted somewhat like people and it had something, anything, to say about parenting.
Daddy’s Home Two has got nothing to offer. So much of it feels inconsequential. And when it doesn’t have that many laughs, you begin to wonder why you’re spending your time watching it. The original isn’t memorable, but it’s funnier, so just rewatch it. Or check out The Other Guys. It’s a better Wahlberg/Ferrell comedy than this. The point is that you can do better. While it isn’t awful, and it’s certainly better than the other parent-child Christmas comedy that’s in theaters right now, it’s not worth your time.
Conclusion: Daddy’s Home Two is a pointless movie that offers very few laughs.
Recommendation: Even if you liked the first movie, it’s hard to recommend Daddy’s Home Two.