“Daddy’s Home” isn’t anything revolutionary when it comes to comedy, but this is more than okay with regards to what it is trying to achieve. It’s core strength is that it is happy to stay in its lane when it comes to what we can expect from both Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg as funny men doing age appropriate work after SNL and The Funky Bunch. Ferrell is the terminally uncool parent suddenly thrown into direct competition against the too cool for school Wahlberg as both vie for the label of “best dad”. Of course, in the complicated landscape that is today’s modern and heavily appendixed nuclear family, keeping a permanent lock on such a vaunted status or any other is nearly impossible. So, in trying to attain the unattainable, comedy ensues as we watch Ferrell and Wahlberg attempt do what we as parents attempt to do every day, only to rise again with the Sisyphean hope of better results tomorrow. In short, “Daddy’s Home” is a great movie for people surviving that hell that hath no fury like that of the child who feels inadequately loved.
While this movie is certainly a success when it comes to exploiting classic but modern familial territory, it really isn’t for kids. Much of the humor, while unquestionably satisfying is definitely nothing that you will relish explaining to your under twelve set, or even your more naïve under eighteens on the way home from the theater. So, unless it’s within your wheelhouse to explain to kids why strippers and women with daddy issues can be laugh out loud funny in the abstract but nothing fun to experience in real life, leave them at home with the sitter.
The scatological and more adult skewing mental humor is pretty good in “Daddy’s Home”. True, many of the more subtle situational elements could have been pushed a bit further to achieve a sharper bite, but that’s about narrower more specific tastes versus broad comedy, and this movie is definitely broad humor versus finely crafted or slyly observational laughs. To that end, the moments that are the laugh out loud best are those firmly rooted in some serious balls to the wall physical humor. In terms of where these gag bonanza scenes go, they deliver some great laughs. However, the impact of these payoffs are directly related to the element of surprise so try not to watch too many trailers as some reveal a bit too much of what makes these moments truly special.
If there is any danger with “Daddy’s Home”, it’s if moviegoers take it too seriously. If you look at the movie too closely from a logistical standpoint, it can start to crumble a bit – especially with regard to Wahlberg’s inexplicable vehicular mobility despite being established as an out of towner who isn’t the first son of oil sheiks or a rogue music mogul. However, if you take the movie for the light fare that it is – with a welcome dash of heart when it comes to the merits of a little bit of a dance battle going a long way in solving parent/student peace, it’s a pretty solid comedy.
With good ensemble acting throughout with unexpected cameos by way of Hannibal Buress and some other stand up all stars taking a welcome bow in the parent ‘hood depicted, “Daddy’s Home” is a yes when it comes to uncomplicated but grownup holiday fare.