daddyshome

It’s the charismatic deadbeat dad vs. mild-mannered stepdad in the new comedy Daddy’s Home, which opens Christmas Day. This is the second outing with Will Ferrell, and Mark Wahlberg since their buddy cop sleeper hit The Other Guys (2010).

The two have an undeniable chemistry, and this movie for the most part is a good showcase of both actors. We meet the nice guy Brad Whitaker (Ferrell) who’s newly married to his wife Sara (Linda Cardellini). Brad, who’s a tad overly sentimental, is trying to win the affections of his new stepchildren. When ex-husband and absentee father Dusty (Wahlberg) suddenly reappears complications ensue when the two get competitive for who’s the better father.

It’s more than straightforward premise is executed well by both Ferrell, and Wahlberg. Both have an effortless rapport, and work terrific with each other. Dusty is a hyper-masculine charmer with abs of steel while Brad is… Will Ferrell.  Brad plays his every move literally by the book – his self-help stepdad manuals are constantly at his side.  Dusty’s devil-may-care attitude towards life, and his kids, rubs Brad the wrong way but wins points from the kids, Brads friends and co-workers and eventually even Sara.

Ferrell’s best laughs come from his over eager approach to his newfound fatherhood. Wahlberg’s goofy earnestness has always worked to his advantage in his past roles, and he gets most of the best moments in the movie. There’s a funny scene in which he is in awe of the experience of watching Frozen for the first time with his daughter that’s one of his most charming.  The inevitable montage of the two dads attempting to one-up each other while literally buying the kids love earns a few laughs but suffers from over-the-top physical comedy that relies too much on special effects to drive the joke home.

Ferrell and Walhberg are at their funniest when they are allowed to be themselves and just act with each other. Cardellini is almost underused as the put upon wife that’s almost come to be a cliché in movies of this sort.  She hates the idea of her deadbeat ex hanging around her home yet she does nothing to send him packing – relying on her new husband, with no history with this man to send him packing.  Watching, I felt like Linda Cardellini the actress would have no problem giving Dusty the heave-ho, while Sara let her husband do the talking.

Hannibal Buress turns in a charming performance as a freeloading contractor and Bobby Cannavale makes your skin crawl as a slimy celebrity fertility doctor.  Thomas Haden Church is a standout as Brad’s inappropriate boss at a soft jazz radio station.Other than that this movie doesn’t quite offer anything new for it’s comedic talents, and at times doesn’t quite get the big laughs it should.

Daddy’s Home probably won’t go down as a Will Ferrell classic, but could work as an entry level movie if you want to intro your kids to Ferrell’s catalog