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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Daddy's Home 2015 * * Stars

Daddy's HomeDirector: Sean Anders
Year: 2015
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell, Linda Cardellini

Will Ferrell's latest is a 2015 release that's less amusing than his boldest endeavors (The Campaign comes to mind). Let's just call Daddy's Home Ferrell lite shall we. At 96 minutes, "Home" as a comedy is stupid funny without being hilarious. It's like a mild hack job from director Sean Anders. Sean's leads (Willy Boy and Mark Wahlberg) are perfectly cast with a few laughs seeping through. However, the screenplay by "Home's" three writers is just meh. A creepy Thomas Haden Church (he plays a radio station owner) giving insensible advice is not amusing. A gag involving a dog who looks ragged while possessing silver-colored eyes is also not amusing. A scene where characters dance with each other instead of fight each other is kind of half-baked. And finally, what's with the adage of locales used in Daddy's Home. Twenty minutes in and I thought things took place in Los Angeles, California. Come to find out that New Orleans, LA was the primary setting. I guess a car license plate and Pelicans basketball gave it away. Natch.

Anyway, the three main characters in "Home" are in a sense, labeled. Their identities are sledgehammered towards the audience as if they were types. Brad Whitaker (Ferrell) is the dimwitted stepdad, a doofus lacking self-confidence and an easy target for ridicule. Dusty Mayron (Wahlberg) is the biological dad, a manipulative jerk who deals in childcare MIA (he's also a slimy badass). Finally, Sara Whitaker (played by Linda Cardellini) is the spouse of Brad, a beautiful yet dull housewife who seems to be caught in the middle of it all.

Slapstick antics of the obligatory kind ensue with Brad Whitaker crashing a large motorcycle into his house, Whitaker punching Dusty without so much as a flinch, Whitaker getting drunk and hitting a cheerleader at a basketball game (with a b ball), and finally, Whit getting electrocuted while trying to skateboard in a backyard half-pipe. I chuckled, I winced, I checked my phone, and I eventually left the theater. The whole time I thought, this flick got green-lighted because of actor notoriety. There's no other explanation.

The story is as follows: Brad works as a radio executive and shares a beautiful house with his wife Sara plus her two kids (Scarlett Estevez and Owen Vaccaro as Dylan and Megan Mayron). He loves being a stepfather to them even though they haven't warmed up to Brad yet. Just as he is about to make a connection with said ankle-biters, in walks Dusty Mayron, their real father who's been away too long and is making up for lost time. Dusty I guess, works in black ops (that's what a couple of other reviews said but I wasn't entirely sure). He drives an intimidating chopper, he can build an intimidating tree house, and he has the radio voice to make mad royalties. Dusty's motivation is to get his kids back, remarry his ex-wife, and eventually give her another baby. He even persuades Brad and Sara to let him stay at their home for an extended period of time. What happens next is you guessed it, an old-fashioned "dad-off". Both of these dudes compete against each other for the affection of two adolescent tykes. Examples would be early Christmas for the kids (in April), complete with tons of presents including a pony. Another example would be the kids meeting Kobe Bryant while sitting in $18,000 seats (at an NBA game). Oh and who can forget Dusty telling fun, bedtime stories while slipping them each twenty bucks. I wish I got that kind of dough when I was seven.

All in all, watch for a lot of erratic jokes, PG-13 fare that doesn't really push the envelope, Ferrell being Ferrell, and Wahlberg being Wahlberg. And despite feeling like a vehicle that was cooked up over a couple of days, Daddy's Home has already made a ton of money ($162 million-plus). Bottom line: Everyone involved (the filmmakers, the producers, the studio executives) is probably laughing all the way to the bank. Rating: 2 stars.

Of note: I read somewhere that Mark Wahlberg has achieved enough success to the point where he's not trying to impress critics or parlay audience members. He now does movies for his family, or for his own self-satisfaction, or because he's got clout, or whatever. "Home" is proof of that. Also of note: For the record, I couldn't tell you whether Daddy's Home is better than Ferrell/Wahlberg's earlier screen pairing being 2010's The Other Guys. I have yet to see that cult worthy, monster hit. Finally, I have to give "Home" points for picking actors who look alike (this applies to immediate family relations). I get annoyed when this is not the case (see my review for This Is Where I Leave You). In reality, if Wahlberg and Linda Cardellini had children, they would probably look exactly like the young troupers featured here. Bravo to the casting department.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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