‘Daddy’s Home 2’ Review: Scraping the Bottom of a Sexist Barrel
Is this Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg-John Lithgow-Mel Gibson film worth a watch?
Too much. This is too much even by Hollywood’s standard of greed. If the recent release A Bad Mom’s Christmas wasn’t bad enough, another film has landed upon us with the same premise. In theory, Daddy’s Home 2 is the sequel to the wildly successful 2015 film Daddy’s Home, but it is A Bad Mom’s Christmas in action. Like the mommy-thon comedy, the sequel to the Will Ferrell- Mark Wahlberg daddy-thon, adds more daddies to the grove, but never quite finds its groove.
In the original, two daddies fought for one-upmanship, but now they are best buds, calling each other co-dads. Since there is no animosity left between Brad (Will Ferrell) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg), the film brings in their respective dads — Jonah (John Lithgow) and Kurt (Mel Gibson) and heads into a cabin retreat for some Santa and snow.
Like the original, the crisis in masculinity is the chief concern of the film, and the idea of its comedy is mined out of this anxiety.
Beginning with Brad and his father Jonah openly kissing each other on the lips, both of them are constant targets of violence, either by wolves, snowballs or sudden deaths. Of course they are redeemed later in the film, but their mockery is what the formulaic plot thrives on.
Dusty and his father Kurt are constantly at loggerheads, and mostly cold and aggrieved towards each other. And this father-son duo are the torchbearers of masculine sovereignty. The casting of Mel Gibson is particularly a worrisome idea here, given the fact that his Kurt is not lampooned as a virile excess, but celebrated as the audience stand-in. He peddles jokes on dead hookers, kissing without consent, and whizzing out a ‘big slap on the caboose’.
Gibson appears like the toxic man-child everyone expects him to be. With his documented past of anti-Semitism, abuse of women, and homophobia, his character on screen is a dazzling example of how to be tone-deaf in the present macroclimate.
As charades go, the female characters in the film, Sara (Linda Cardellini) and Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio) exist just to fill the screen up, because only men know how to make us laugh.
Director Sean Anders and writer John Morris create a universe for the poisonous man-child, emasculating one pair of dads, and making the other pair hyper-masculine. And the fruits of comedy, oh dear God, hanging in between are largely unfunny, scraping the bottom of the sexist noisy barrel.
While socio-political norms are shifting towards a better cultural future, Daddy’s Home 2 is hell-bent on taking you back in time, citing the lameness of being sensitive. Is that the world you want for your kids?
(The writer is a journalist, a screenwriter, and a content developer who believes in the insanity of words, in print or otherwise. He tweets @RanjibMazumder)
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