Hell for the Holidays
Sequels to unfunny comedies will never not be the worst entries into the box office. Adding in a controversial figure like Mel Gibson, does not lessen the blow; in fact, it can make it SO much worse. But hey, I at least try to give every film the benefit of the doubt, regardless of how I personally feel about the artists involved and the general distaste I had for the previous entry in a series (see Wonder Woman as proof). Which is why I can safely say that Daddy’s Home 2 is truly be congratulated. It managed the envious task of knocking Michael Bay off of this year’s Worst of the Year.
So Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are back as the co-fathers to three incredibly obnoxious kids. Ferrell plays the uptight, politically correct, and risk-averse stepfather to Mark Wahlberg’s deadbeat, bad boy ass. Trying to give their children a happier Christmas, the two resolve to have a shared Christmas between the two families, as opposed to spending it apart each year. However, a wrench is thrown in the mix when Ferrell’s overbearingly loving father (John Lithgow) comes to spend the holidays with the family, alongside Wahlberg’s overly obnoxious, chauvinistic, and asshole father (Mel Gibson). Everybody winds up in a snow-covered cabin to try to spread merry cheer, and instead chaos ensues…but not hilarity at all.
There are so many things wrong with this worthless piece of trash, that I honestly don’t know where to begin. Let’s tackle the fact that it’s just not funny and work our way from there, yeah? There are barely any cleverly written jokes in this 100 minute so-called comedy, with every line being a dismissive insult that is quickly forgotten about within 5 seconds. Instead, the film leans heavily on the Adam McKay school of humor that his golden boy, Will Ferrell, relies on: pratfalls. The film is all about setting up situations where Ferrell is about to suffer a major life-threatening injury that would have gotten a chuckle on Americas Funniest Home Videos, but the set up for which takes so damn long that the comedy falls completely flat. And when it’s not doing either insults or pratfalls, the movie is just showing you the interactions between the adults and these truly despicable children. No seriously, each one of these kids acted like such entitled little brats that it made me wish there was a subplot about time travel and threatening to abort them. And if you think that such an idea wouldn’t fit into this movie, you should see what else Daddy’s Home 2 needlessly shoves in to pad its already lengthy run time.
The crux of the drama in this film is Mel Gibson’s character sowing distrust between his Mark Whalberg and Will Ferrell’s characters for reasons…actually never adequately explained. He’s simply there to be an asshole, which the film continuously reinforces as he goes from scene to scene belittling women, ignoring his family, and just saying as much condescending things as possible to show off just how much of a “man” he is. And if you’re wondering this all leads to some sort of redemption arc or maybe a reveal that the reason he’s such an asshole is some deep seated issues that he sincerely needs to get over and he’s looking to his son for some help, then I have one thing to say to you: “Ha. Ha. HAAAAAAAAAAAAA Grafasbeaeljasdkh.” Sorry, I blanked out into a blind rage just then, leaving my previous sentence as documentation for my deteriorating mental state caused by spunk like this.
What’s even more baffling is that Mel Gibson’s inclusion in this film is merely notable because his character is essentially a caricature of how the media has portrayed him after his many long-documented years of rampant (and frankly bizarre) misogyny. At one point, one of the kids is lamenting to Ferrell, Whalberg, and Gibson about how he doesn’t know how to talk to girls. Ferrell gives spectacularly awful “nice guy” advice, Whalberg ironically gives the better advice of acting confident despite his bad boy attitude, and Gibson…well Gibson gives the single greatest tone deaf advice from a character actor ever. He advises the 10-year-old grab a mistletoe, put it above his crush’s head, “plant one on her lips…and when you’re done, give her a nice smack on the caboose.” That’s word-for-goddamn-word what he says, and I swear on a stack of Bibles and assorted holy scriptures that was true.
As far as the rest of the cast is concerned, the lot of them were boring me to sleep. Even John Cena makes a showstopping appearance and the film very quickly fumbles to do anything (literally anything) with him. Cena is quickly becoming the next big wrestler since Dwayne Johnson and Dave Bautista to make the leap from wrestling to big Hollywood star, and the film gives him a grand total of 5 minutes of screentime where they literally have him in the frame to just look tough and do nothing else. The only person that actually showed up to work was John Lithgow. He plays his role well as a bumbling grandfather that’s constantly getting dunked on but he merely turns the other cheek to such cruelty. On top of that, Lithgow actually gives a bit of dimension to his character with a genuinely heartbreaking moment that actually caught my interest before the film flubbed it and refused to acknowledge it for the remainder of the run time.
Most damning of all, this film doesn’t even have the nerve to show up with a plot. It has a concept that the movie tortuously drags out to fit a feature length time limit, so you’re just going along from scene to scene, not really knowing where it’s going. And the most frustrating part is that other films, notably National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, have very thoroughly explored what can be done with a raunchy holiday comedy romp. They all recognize that the story is about dealing with conflicting personalities meeting together for the holidays and they also recognize you need a few likable protagonists for the audience to sympathize with and ultimately take their side. But the Daddy’s Home series is filled to the brim with selfish, self-entitled, cruel, and all around unpleasant gobshites, so a relatable protagonist is nowhere to be found.
Now, comedies that fail to make me laugh have typically enraged me, but they very rarely make my worst of the year list due to absolute volume of shit I have to sift through. So it’s especially glaring when this spectacular waste of time has managed to piss me off so much that it’s sitting prettily and securely in my upcoming worst of the year list. Because this film isn’t just SOME OL’ BULLSHIT. It pissed me off. Partly because it’s not funny, partly because the characters are absolute cretins, partly because there’s a cameo that enraged me further at the very end, partly because there’s barely anything that perked my spirits, and partly because of just how much I hated Gibson in this. There’s only one rating appropriate for the feeling I have…
FUCK THIS MOVIE