D.C.’s Take: “Daddy’s Home 2”

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Never bring high expectations to comedy sequels. Why’s that? Because a lot of times, they don’t end up being better than or even just as hilarious as their predecessors. It’s really tough for Hollywood to bring back that initial audience to enjoy the same characters with a new set of hijinks that might ensue. So, what better way to start off the holiday season with a sequel I’m pretty sure not everyone was clamoring for, “Daddy’s Home 2”? In the follow-up to the 2015 hit, Brad (Will Ferrell) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) have joined forces to become co-parents to provide Dusty’s kids with the perfect Christmas. But their newfound partnership gets put to the test when Dusty’s old school macho dad (Mel Gibson) and Brad’s gentle father (John Lithgow) arrive to turn the holidays upside down. The first “Daddy’s Home” wasn’t that good of a comedy, in my opinion. There were a few laughs that caught me, but other than that, it was just a 98-minute long one-note joke. But I still wasn’t surprised that a sequel was announced, considering the original made $150 million domestically. Was there some kind of strategy in having this and “A Bad Moms Christmas,” (which I still haven’t seen,) coming out a week apart?  They both share the same premise: extended families coming together. But the trailer (which I saw SO many times this past summer), actually got me to laugh a number of times, but I just knew it was gonna get dopey quickly. And to no surprise whatsoever, “Daddy’s Home 2” is just like your grandmother burning the annual fruitcake. The story itself is so formulaic; it goes for that predictability factor and you’ll pretty much know how everything will wrap up in the end: with a nice funny bow on top. It seems like director Sean Anders and his co-writer John Morris didn’t have the brainpower to think of an original idea that hasn’t been played out before. One of a few things that did work in “Daddy’s Home 2” is that Ferrell and Wahlberg still work well on screen together. Both of them have those comedic chops, even though they start to waver as the film goes on. They’re definitely better this second time around. They kept me from truly hating the movie. There’s really nothing in either of the families to attach to. Linda Cardellini still doesn't get enough to do in her role, just like before, which is dumb because she's so talented. The stuff involving the kids and Dusty's family never ceases to crack me up. And if there’s one thing to remember about “Daddy’s Home 2,” John Cena shows up, reprising his role at the end of the first film. Lithgow was perfect casting as Ferrell's dad Don. He does get annoying when he’s first introduced, but according to Gibson, that's the point. If there was anything to hopefully make this the least bit tolerable or even funny, you would think it’d be Gibson. Unfortunately, he was perhaps the worst thing about the movie. His character, Kurt, was just unlikable from the very beginning, and the lines of crude dialogue he gives were awkward, not funny. How could someone go from directing “Hacksaw Ridge,” earning a Best Director nomination and temporarily leading him back in Hollywood’s grace, to being in a shameless comedy? None of the humor really kicked in for me, especially the first half. They tried to market this for families as a fun watch for everyone. I highly disagree with that fact, just like with the first film. To get a PG-13 rating, the film doesn't go full out with the jokes, and a majority of them are very annoying to sit through. Just because you repeat a joke from the first film doesn't mean it works every time in the follow-up. From what I can easily remember, there were a couple chuckle-worthy moments. Most of the laughs are very forced, with dumb slapstick humor that gets old very fast. One of many scenes that proved completely unnecessary involves a hunting scene with Dusty’s daughter. Just watching it unfold was absolutely ridiculous, aside from the fact that this isn’t the type of movie to showoff something gun-related.  Even when “Daddy’s Home 2” tries for those traditional holiday film sentimental moments, they’re not earned when they’re being brushed over with a line that just doesn't work. Aside from all this, “Daddy’s Home 2” temporarily ruined Journey’s “Open Arms” for me. Overall, “Daddy’s Home 2” isn’t worth checking out, unless you really enjoyed what the first film had to offer. It has a talented cast, but that talent is just wasted on the lowbrow material that’s brought to them. My advice: watch a better Christmas comedy. Daddy’s Home 2” managed to be worse than its predecessor, offering nothing new besides a mean-spirited holiday premise with unfunny, forced laughs. Grade: D+      
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