Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars
With 52% of all marriages in America ending in divorce, the plot of “Daddy’s Home” may resonate more than the filmmakers thought. Brad Whitaker (Ferrell) is a great guy. Volunteers to work with kids, donates his time coaching…he does all the things a great dad does. Except he has no children. A “mishap” earlier in life has made him unable to father a child. But his dream comes true when he marries the beautiful Sarah (Linda Cardenelli), who has two young children from her first marriage. Brad does his best to gain the kid’s love, often making their lunch and putting inspirational messages inside next to the PB&J sandwich. But the kids don’t thaw easily. Young son Dylan (Owen Vacarro) begins to warm but daughter Megan (Scarlett Estevez) is taking a little more time. She has begun including Brad in her “family” drawings, but unfortunately in each drawing he’s dead. Kids!
A hit or miss re-teaming of the stars of “The Other Guys,” “Daddy’s Home” survives on the chemistry between Ferrell and co-star Wahlberg, who plays Dusty, the kids birth father. When he comes to visit, astride a beautiful, gleaming motorcycle, Brad begins to feel intimidated. This doesn’t stop him, however, from allowing Dusty to stay in his house. Brad is the manager of a smooth jazz radio station, whose boss (Thomas Haden Church) is always sharing stories about his multiple marriages. When Dusty is hired to be the “voice” of the radio station (he records all of the station’s bumpers and promos) things get a little testy at home. But Brad doesn’t give up. With occasionally funny consequences.
Director Anders, who also co-wrote the script with John Morris and Brian Burns (they also collaborated on the original “Hot Tub Time Machine” and sequels “Horrible Bosses 2” and “Dumb and Dumber To,” proves himself skillful at setting up some major sight gags but when it’s just the cast intermingling the film begins to slow down. Ferrell and Wahlberg appear to be having fun, and a small role of former handyman/new house tenant Griff (Hannibal Buress) could have been expanded some as he had some of the best lines. All in all, when the kids are disappointed that “Star Wars” is sold out, you can have a little fun with them here.