365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About

18Jun/160

Daddy’s Home (2015)

With apologies to the extremely funny The Campaign, first-time co-director John Morris and Sean Anders's (Horrible Bosses 2, Sex Drive) Daddy's Home is, ironically, Will Ferrell's (Old School, Step Brothers) best-starring comedy role since 2010's The Other Guys. It's not a movie I thought I would particularly like and one that I had serious doubts about as much as 20 minutes in (I hadn't laughed but maybe one time), but as the movie progressed it got funnier and funnier and by its conclusion it became a somewhat memorable movie that I wouldn't put on the "A-shelf" comedy list, but might find itself just a notch below. What made the movie work was the dynamics between Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg (Lone Survivor, The Fighter) who didn't have quite the same chemistry they had when they teamed is partners in the buddy cop The Other Guys but were still pretty close. While Daddy's Home was 100% completely predictable, it didn't make it any less fun and while Ferrell and Wahlberg weren't exceptionally awesome in the scenes where they weren't together, it more than made up for during the scenes where they shared screen time.

This movie is 100% predictable. Ferrell plays Brad Whitaker, husband to Sarah (Linda Cardellini - Welcome to Me, Brokeback Mountain) and stepfather to Dylan and Megan, two early elementary school aged children. While Brad and Sarah have a loving relationship, the kids haven't taken a liking to the new man living in their house. It is assumed that Brad has been in the kids' lives for at least a couple of years (or reasonably long enough for the pair to have dated and decided that they wanted to be life partners). Brad tries his best and while he is an extremely likable man, he does follow the fairly predictable pattern of kids not liking a replacement man in their lives. The children's father though isn't living the next city over and getting the kids every other weekend and on Wednesday nights for dinner. Dusty (Wahlberg) is MIA this entire time. But when he does return back to the United States, he expects to pick up right where he left off. Though divorced from Sarah, he had an awakening of sorts and wants his family back. Now while this makes the kids ecstatic, Sarah is in love with Brad and is not entertaining that idea at all. Still, Dusty is the children's biological father and obviously wants him to be part of their lives since he seems to be back for good. This doesn't give Brad the utmost confidence, however. Dusty is much better looking than Brad and is in much better shape. He also is smarter, more athletic, better with tools, wittier, and an all around good guy. It becomes a game of the two trying to one up one another with Brad always coming up on the losing and end and, often, looking ridiculous in the process.

But what also doesn't help Brad's cause is that Dusty is really likable. So while he sees this guy trying to take his ex-wife back and sending Brad to the streets, he does so in a way that makes him hard to hate. Even Brad kind of likes the guy. It's a hilarious dynamic that Ferrell and Wahlberg pull of tremendously. Throw in Hannibal Buress (The Nice Guys, Neighbors) as Griff, the lovable handyman, who makes an almost permanent residence in Brad's home after Dusty effectively got Brad to fire him while convincing Griff it was because of his race and you've got a dynamic that keeps the wheels spinning throughout the duration of this movie. While we know how this film is going to end, it doesn't make the process in getting there any less entertaining. 

Ferrell has had quite the movie career since a successful run on Saturday Night Live. He had a five-year run between 2003 and 2008/2009 where he was arguably the funniest man on the big screen (and got paid accordingly). With starring roles in smash hits like Old School, Elf, Stranger Than Fiction, Anchorman - The Legend of Ron Burgandy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Blades of Glory, and Step Brothers, it was only a matter of time before he either went through a cold streak or branched off into other genres. Ferrell's career certainly hasn't had the same dire turn as other SNL alum who had blossoming movie careers that have since gone in the toilet (i.e. Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Adam Sandler, the list goes on and on). But he is fairly one dimensional. He's great at playing the tall goofy dork who might, at times, appear rough on the exterior, but has a good heart inside. Since his peak run ended right around 2008, he's still starred in some great movies (The Other Guys, The Campaign, Get Hard, Megamind), lent his voice to others (The LEGO Movie, The Flintstones), and produced films in which he has no screen presence at all (Welcome to Me, Sleeping With Other People). It's been a fantastic career already and he's not even 50 years old. Ferrell has 20+ more years in him as a Hollywood funny man.

I got in a conversation with a friend about which was the funniest movie of 2015. The contenders were Trainwreck, Vacation, The Intern, and Daddy's Home. Trainwreck was obviously the one that received the most press. Amy Schumer's breakout (as both a movie star and a movie screenwriter) resonated with critics (85% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences ($110 million at the US box office alone) alike. Vacation had the dubious and nearly impossible task of trying to live up to the classic 1983 Chevy Chase led National Lampoon's Vacation. I'm really not sure this movie ever got its fair chance, but I thought it was absolutely hysterical (side note, I think Ed Helms is brilliant). The Intern told the best story of the four movies and probably was the most mass appeal. As I mentioned in my review of it, I think this was easily Robert De Niro's best film since 2000/2001 when he had back to back to back successes with Meet the Parents, The Score, and Men of Honor. Yes, he was great in both Silver Linings Playbook and Joy, but he was by no means the focal point of those movies and, I believe, each of those movies would have done just fine had his role been replaced with someone else. When I think De Niro, I don't think of a supporting character. I think of a leading man. And that's what he was opposite Anne Hathaway in The Intern. And certainly of all of the characters in each of the four movies being compared here, De Niro's portrayal of Ben Whitaker, a 70-year-old retired widower who takes a job as an intern for an online clothing company as a mans to pass the time, is the most enjoyable. Through his illustrious career (and this is a man who enjoyed immense success and fortune in the genres of drama, comedy, horror, and action), I'm not sure De Niro has played a more likable character. And then there is Daddy's Home which, like Vacation, was going to be compared against The Other Guys whether that was just or not. Now while 2015 certainly wasn't the year of the comedy, you ended up with one which most who saw it will remember for many years (Trainwreck), one which most people who saw it found it endearing (The Intern), and two lesser known ones that were still pretty good (Vacation and Daddy's Home). Four memorable comedies in a year is a pretty good year if you ask me.

Plot 7.5/10 (predictable, but who cares...Ferrell and Wahlberg are dynamite)
Character Development 7.5/10
Character Chemistry 9/10 (these two work well together)
Acting 8/10
Screenplay 8/10 (formulaic, but still some hilarious scenes)
Directing 7.5/10
Cinematography 7.5/10
Sound 8/10
Hook and Reel 8/10 (first 20 minutes might not win you over, but keep going with it)
Universal Relevance 9/10 (this is a little extreme but certainly)
81%

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