THE FILM 3/5
“You can’t build a treehouse with tampons, Brad.”
Daddy’s Home follows a mild-mannered radio executive (Will Ferrell) who strives to become the best stepdad to his wife’s two children, but complications ensue when their freewheeling and freeloading real father (Mark Wahlberg) arrives, forcing him to compete for the affection of the kids.
The last time Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, and writer/producer/director Adam McKay made a film together, it resulted in the wonderfully hilarious and perpetually rewatchable police detective romp The Other Guys. It was the first real opportunity for Wahlberg to show off his comedic chops in a full-on, unrelenting, and absurd comedy environment. Though it was another vehicle for Ferrell to exploit his unassuming child-like eyes and demeanor (which he does to maximum effect), make no mistake Wahlberg steals the movie away from him. His unexplained passion for/knowledge of the entire animal kingdom, his strangely feminine behavior masked by a faux-macho bravado, and even his subtle love of the ridiculous Stallone film Cobra lent Wahlberg a new kind of character to play, and instead of fumbling awkwardly as he sometimes does as a performer, he instead felt right at home. The chemistry he and Ferrell displayed managed to best that of the on-screen pairing of Ferrell and John C. Reilly in McKay’s previous film Talladega Nights. So it was understandable that the trio of Ferrell, Wahlberg, and McKay coming together for another comedy was something to anticipate.
Sadly, Daddy’s Home is not quite the reunion for which we were all hoping.
To be clear, it’s not that Daddy’s Home is bad or a slog to watch, because it’s certainly neither, but with the precedent that’d been previously set by our trio, along with the dynamite supporting cast of Linda Cardellini, Bobby Canavale, Hannibal Buress, and the immortal Thomas Haden Church (who seems intent on squandering his post-Sideways career 2.0), it feels as if the end result left a lot of laughs somewhere out on the field, instead relying on more formulaic humor (and, surprisingly, some horrendous CGI). Though the script is credited to three writers (Brian Burns, director Sean Anders, & John Morris), there’s a sense that McKay and possibly Ferrell may have performed their own pass on the script in an attempt to inject their brand of more absurd humor. Buress’ character of Griff may have come as a result of this, as his Where’s Waldo? variety of appearances are meant to induce amused questions of, “Why is this guy still in the movie?” but instead comes off as forced, as if the comedic duo relied on this gag once before with great success and tried to replicate it here.
To make a successful comedy, not every single joke has to land, but most of them should. If you spend more time straight-faced than at least letting loose an appreciative chuckle, something is wrong. And when it comes to Daddy’s Home, if most of the laughs stem from Thomas Haden Church, who plays a lovable slimeball but whose screentime isn’t exactly generous, that’s a problem–especially considering who is headlining the film in the first place.
Daddy’s Home more or less plays out like a spiritual sequel to The Other Guys, in that Ferrell once again plays a meek and dorky character while Wahlberg goes for macho, but much like the curse of the sequel, this time around it feels stale and uninspired. Blame it on the screenplay, or with McKay (officially an Oscar-nominated director for this year’s The Big Short) taking on a role as producer instead of director, but whatever the case, Daddy’s Home had great potential that unfortunately it ultimately squandered. Can’t build a treehouse with tampons, indeed.
THE PICTURE 4.5/5
Daddy’s Home, set in colorful and manicured suburbia, makes for an unexpectedly very attractive high-def image. The aforementioned colors in both interior and exterior sequences really show quite well, especially the school dance finale. Flesh tones look spot-on and clarity is very good. You can actually see the glisten in Mark Wahlberg’s slicked back hair.
THE SOUND 4.5/5
Being that we’re in comedy territory, there’s a fair use of bangs/crashes/booms, along with some of your more typical “ironic” song choices, but the most important thing is the dialogue, which is front and center of this audio presentation. Being that this is a lesser Ferrell film, rated PG-13, and released on Christmas Day, needless to say there’s a lot of falling down, crashing through walls, and all kinds of body impacts, which also register quite well. There are no areas of concern worth noting.
THE SUPPLEMENTS 3/5
Eight mini-featurettes and a set of deleted scenes comprise the special features on this home video release. Why these featurettes weren’t combined into a more extensive feature-length “making of” is anyone’s guess, as their average running time is roughly 3-4 minutes. They are pretty standard stuff, consisting of sit-down interviews with the prominent players and crew explaining certain aspects of the film. The blooper featurette “Jeet Kune Do” is especially fun, as bloopers–especially involving Ferrell and co.–usually are. Credit also goes to Ferrell for making a good point in “The Making of Daddy’s Home,” in that the stepfather character is usually the one who comes off as a dick or flat-out evil (depending on the genre), so it was refreshing to play a stepfather who, instead, is sweet and kind, and it’s the biological father who’s the dick.
It’s a bummer to see no commentary included, and it’s also a bummer that Ferrell isn’t legally obligated to include one for each of his film’s video releases, because they are always a delight.
The complete list of special features is as follows:
Feature film in high definition
- The Making of Daddy’s Home
- Daddy Daughter Dance
- Halftime Stunt
- Tony Hawk: Skater Double
- Child’s Play
- Hannibal Buress: The Perfect Houseguest
- Blooper – Jeet Kune Do
- Deleted and Extended Scenes
STUDIO: Paramount Pictures
DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Home Entertainment
THEATRICAL DATE: December 25, 2015
VIDEO STREET DATE: March 22, 2016
VIDEO: MPEG-4 AVC; 1080p; 1.85:1
RUN TIME: 95 mins
DVD COPY: Yes
DIGITAL DOWNLOAD: Ultraviolet
Daddy’s Home is the perfect rental. It will garner some decent laughs, and Ferrell and Wahlberg still exhibit great chemistry, even if the screenplay lets them down, but that’s about the best that can be said about it. The film’s rewatchability will obviously depend on the viewer, but for those who want to take the plunge, excellent PQ and AQ, and a decent crop of special features are on hand to warrant a purchase.
Paramount Home Media Distribution (PHMD) is part of Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment. PPC is a unit of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), home to premier media brands that create television programs, motion pictures, consumer products, and digital content for audiences in more than 180 countries and territories. The PHMD division oversees PPC’s home entertainment and transactional digital distribution activities worldwide. The division is responsible for the sales, marketing and distribution of home entertainment content on behalf of Paramount Pictures, Paramount Animation, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and CBS and applicable licensing and servicing of certain DreamWorks Animation titles.