Twice the dads, twice the fun in DADDY’S HOME 2
The original Daddy’s Home (2015) dealt with a status competition between two dads – one of them was parenting in a less traditional way than the other, and they were both being viewed differently through their children’s eyes. The main focus of the film was on newly-step-fathered Brad’s (Will Ferrell) constant and comedic struggle to win over his step children, combined with his efforts in maintaining his place as father, husband, and man of the house against Dusty (Mark Wahlberg), the biological father. This was not an entirely original idea, but it was effective. In Daddy’s Home 2, the two dads have learned to adapt, get along, and co-parent harmoniously with each other. They have schedules and a balanced system where both men are able to contribute equally to their ongoing and functioning mixed family. It is when the family is relishing in their idea to celebrate Christmas, combined at one location instead of two, that the dads receive news that their fathers are planning to visit. Brad’s wife Sara (Linda Cardellini) returns, as does Dusty’s girlfriend Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio), Sara’s ex-husband Roger (John Cena), and the children: Megan (Scarlett Estevez), Dylan (Owen Vaccaro), and Adrianna (Didi Costine). New to this round are Brad’s father Mr. Whitaker, played by John Lithgow, and Dusty’s father Kurt, played by Mel Gibson. Brad and his dad are like two peas in a pod, they are even comfortable enough to greet each other with a kiss on the mouth. Dusty’s father Kurt is rough around the edges; an instigator, womanizer, and negative influence on Dusty. Hilarity ensues when Brad and Dusty’s functioning family system is compromised by the visiting dads.
Soon after writing and directing the first film, Sean Anders returned to write and direct the sequel. What is different, and actually an improvement over the first film, are the additions of the visiting fathers, and the Christmas/holiday component – It was almost as if Anders was channeling National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) when he wrote the screenplay, as there are a number of noticeable similarities. Many of the laughs result from Brad’s awkwardness and clumsiness, much like with Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase) in his films. Every character has opposition that they face throughout the film. Brad and Dusty have an on and off co-fathering relationship, Kurt’s meddling gives Dusty anxiety, Sara appears to have difficulty accepting Karen’s youth, appearance, and secrecy; Dylan experiences conflict with Adrianna and Megan, and even Brad experiences difficulty with his father when his father confesses to having domestic problems. What eventually unifies the family is a group rendition of Band Aid’s “Do they know it’s Christmas?” .
Comparing this sequel with its predecessor, would be like comparing the original National Lampoon’s Vacation with Christmas Vacation – both films are very well done, but it feels like the Christmas film is slightly better. I would even say Daddy’s Home 2 is a better film than this year’s Bad Mom’s Christmas (2017), the sequel to Bad Moms (2016). Why not see both? It is the holiday season, after all!