Daddy’s Home (12a) | Close-Up FIlm Review

Daddys Home

Dir. Sean Anders, 96mins, UA, 2015

Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini, Thomas Hayden-Church

For all intents and purposes, Daddy’s Home feels like another of those dusted off scripts from the 1980’s that have recently populated the CV of Kevin Hart, and used to be tossed around by agents of Twins-era Arnold Schwarzenegger or Daddy Day Care-era Eddie Murphy.

Now the formula appears to be to take one Will Ferrell, add one mismatched “buddy”, see Get Hard, The Campaign, or Step Brothers for inspiration, stir in a plot (not a necessity) and laughs (not always evident) and watch the dollars roll in.

Going into this re-teaming of the guys from middling The Other Guys, that kind of cynical approach might prove beneficial, because although there’s nothing really fresh on display here, and you’re not likely to remember much about it come the morning, you’ll still have the faceache from having smiled, nay laughed, a darn sight more than you’d expected.

Ferrell is a gentle giant radio producer, tasked with creating voiceovers for his anecdote spouting boss (Thomas Hayden-Church), as well as playing step-father to Linda Cardellini’s two kids, both of whom treat him with distant contempt. He turns a corner when one of them confides in him because they’re being bullied at school and the other invites him to the dads & daughters pre-school dance.

You might say that life was perfect for this conventionally Hollywood family, until the phone rings, signalling the arrival of their real daddy; a cowboy boot wearing, bicep bulging, Mark Wahlberg. And thus begins a dick measuring contest between the two, taking in high wire skateboarding, elaborate bedtime stories, and contrasting beat-the-bully lessons.

Sean We’re the Millers Anders film won’t win any awards for progressive thinking; it still features a middle aged man with an inexplicably beautiful younger wife, who fawns over him for no discernable reason, and the fact it reduces the superb Linda Cardellini, who scene stole in Age of Ultron and was excellent in Netflix drama, Bloodline, to little more than a trophy for the men to fight over, is frustrating.

What it does get right is in the chemistry between the two leads. Unlike, say, the recent Get Hard, which felt like lines written for other actors, Ferrell and Wahlberg bounce off each other terrifically. Wahlberg in particular seems at ease in the genre now, sparring with the Saturday Night Live veteran in Statham/McCarthy Spy-levels of comedic exchange.

They’re ably assisted by US TV veteran Hannibal Buress, as the handyman-turned-lodger, whose laugh quota exceeds almost everyone in the film, and Thomas Hayden Church also gets some big lines as the free-spirited station chief.

The set-pieces vary in success, and much like the film as whole, they’re hit and miss; a motorcycle stunt sequence pushes the Looney Toons farce too far, but a similarly stupid resuscitation scene is quite hilarious.

Daddy’s Home is remarkably silly, unchallenging fun, and if that doesn’t get you enticed, then how about the prospect of Marky Mark throwing down some moves not seen since the days of The Funky Bunch? It’s worth the ticket price alone.

Review by Matthew Rodgers