27 December 2015 | dave-mcclain
Get your father to leave daddy's home and take him to see "Daddy's Home"!
"Modern Family" has been showing it to us on our TV screens since 2009. On the big screen, "Mrs. Doubtfire" talked about it back in 1993: "Some parents, when they're angry, they get along much better when they don't live together. They don't fight all the time, and they can become better people, and much better mummies and daddies for you. There are all sorts of different families." The Best Picture Oscar winner "Kramer vs. Kramer" dramatized it back in 1979, along with numerous other TV shows and movies before and since. These entertainment products reflect today's society and help people deal with the stresses and heartbreak of divorce and the formation of new and even unconventional families. Often, TV shows and movies do these things with humor, as in the film "Daddy's Home" (PG-13, 1:36).
Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg (previously seen together in 2010's "The Other Guys") star as Brad Whitaker and Dustin Mayron, two dads vying for the affections and loyalties of young brother and sister, Dylan and Megan (Owen Vaccaro and Scarlett Estevez). Dustin was the proverbial bad boy who was exciting for Sara (Linda Cardellini) to date. After marrying her and giving her two beautiful children, the same qualities which initially made him appealing, made him impossible to live with and the couple split. Enter Brad, a sensitive man who can't have children, but who has a tremendous paternal instinct. He marries Sara and is a great husband and father – at least, to the extent that the kids allow. Still attached to their absentee bio-dad, the kids make Brad work for every ounce of grudging acceptance.
When Dustin unexpectedly calls the Whitaker home and announces that he's flying to New Orleans for a visit, Brad happily picks up Dustin from the airport. Brad's a bit intimidated by Dustin's machismo, but remains confident in his own lovingly and patiently-cultivated position of step-dad. Just starting to make emotional inroads with Dylan and Megan, Brad is thrown off his game by Dustin's "fun dad" persona – and passive-aggressive efforts to make Dustin look
less. Along the way, Brad gets "advice" in the form of humorously self-aggrandizing stories from his boss (Thomas Haden Church) and medical help in trying to expand his family from a famous fertility doctor (Bobby Cannavale), while having to deal with a handyman (Hannibal Buress) whom Dustin invites to move in and who thinks that Brad's a racist. As Brad and Dustin escalate their competition, each deals with some of his efforts hilariously backfiring. It's going to take a lot of grit, determination and cunning for either Brad or Dustin to win this "dad off".
"Daddy's Home" is a very funny and well-constructed comedy with a lot of heart. The movie's jokes and sight-gags range from sweet to predictably crude, are often clever and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. Ferrell and Wahlberg are in top form. Ferrell's over-the-top patient understanding and affection-winning efforts make us root for him
until we're not so sure. Wahlberg's oblique persona and shifting tactics keep us guessing. The cumulative result is a back-and-forth battle whose outcome may be predictable, but still entertains us with the method to its madness. My advice? As soon as daddy's home, get him to leave daddy's home and take him to see "Daddy's Home". He'll appreciate it. "A-"