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New Release Review - DADDY'S HOME

A step-dad goes to war with his children's biological father.

Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Sean Anders

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell, Linda Cardellini, Thomas Haden Church


For a while it appears as if Daddy's Home may have more to offer than you might imagine. Soon however it unspools in rote fashion like a well-promoted version of a straight to video comedy Chevy Chase might have headlined 20 years ago.




In recent years we've seen an explosion of product placement in Hollywood productions; who can forget 2013's extended commercial The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, in which Ben Stiller attempted to sell us a multitude of endorsed products and services. Or that same year's action sequel Red 2, which paused said action to break for a pizza commercial? In Daddy's Home we have yet more product placement, perhaps even more shameless than the aforementioned examples, with the movie book-ended by scenes in which Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg espouse the virtues of a particular model of people carrier. In between, a significant subplot is devoted to telling us of the unique appeal of a certain baked goods store.
Amid all these commercials is a just below mediocre comedy film, one that pits Ferrell's loving step-dad against his step-kids' natural dad, a motorbike riding, well-endowed Alpha Male played by Wahlberg, intent on inveigling himself back into the arms of Ferrell's unlikely wife, Linda Cardellini. It's smooth jazz versus heavy metal as Ferrell and Wahlberg squeeze themselves into all manner of comic japes.
For a while it appears as if Daddy's Home may have more to offer than you might imagine. The soundtrack, a parody of sitcom music, suggests we might be in for some postmodern Brady Bunch Movie style commentary. The Ferrell-Cardellini relationship seems to be a play on the old sitcom trope of pairing off a schlub with a wife well out of his league, the dynamic threatened by the arrival of Wahlberg, a far more realistic partner for Cardellini. Soon however it becomes apparent that the film has no such intention as it unspools in rote fashion like a well-promoted version of a straight to video comedy Chevy Chase might have headlined 20 years ago.
As is often the case with these mainstream American comedies, the funniest moments come courtesy of supporting characters, and Daddy's Home's few highlights come courtesy of Thomas Haden Church as Ferrell's boss, relaying 'motivational' anecdotes that prove anything but. Hannibal Buress, as a black handyman who ends up living in Ferrell's house, provides some awkward racial humour that hints at the taboo-busting movie this could have been if a black actor had played Wahlberg's part. Cardellini seems to have found herself type-cast as 'the perfect wife' recently; a shame, as fans of the short-lived Freaks and Geeks will attest to her comic talents, an insult made worse by the success of her old co-stars Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jason Segel.
The film's ending threatens a sequel, but given how Hollywood currently boasts an abundance of talented female comic performers, I suggest they rework it as Mommy's Home with Amy Poehler and Sofia Vergara. 
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