With their petty jealousies settled in 2015’s hit comedy Daddy’s Home, dad Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) and stepdad Brad (Will Ferrell) reunite for a ‘together Christmas’ with their wives and stepchildren in Daddy’s Home 2.
Everything that can go wrong does go wrong at their cabin in the woods, but the comic high jinks fails to break new ground. The original set pieces are recycled with a dash of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
In the vein of A Bad Mom’s Christmas, this time the co-dads are joined by their own fathers played with relish by Mel Gibson and John Lithgow. Gibson’s macho Kurt revels in the creation of chaos, driving a wedge between Dusty and Brad. Old rivalries re-emerge but we’ve seen it all before.
Lacking the simplicity of the original, Daddy’s Home 2 gets bogged down in competing sub-plots between co-dads, co-grandparents, fathers and sons. It leaves John Lithgow, who has such exuberant chemistry with Ferrell, criminally underused.
This time around, Dusty’s own unenthusiastic stepdaughter opens the door to a barrage of in-jokes. Meanwhile, director Sean Anders attempts to riff on the re-use of original set-pieces with limited success. Without the element of surprise the slapstick gags lose their impact. Yet despite the lazy writing and hit and miss gags, Daddy’s Home 2 oozes with the kind of feelgood vibes so intrinsic to the Christmas genre.
Daddy’s Home 2 is the antidote to the angry, negative comedy of A Bad Mom’s Christmas and takes pleasure in the joyous coming together of family. A jubilant,
festive finale rescues Daddy’s Home 2 from snowy oblivion. Never mind the laughs, it’s atmosphere of merry cheerfulness is perfectly fitting for the most wonderful time of the year.