Plot: Brad (Will Ferrell) has always wanted to be a father, but a mishap at the dentist’s office left him unable to sire children of his own. But he met Sara (Linda Cardellini), a single mother of two children, so he was able to fulfill his fatherly dreams, even if her kids haven’t fully accepted his presence. He is kind of a dork and the kids pick up on that, but his persistent love and care has won him some affection, as they dislike him less than they used to. Just as he is getting close to breaking through, the children’s birth father Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) arrives back on the scene. Dusty is a cool customer with a motorcycle and endless stories of wild adventures, so Brad is quickly put into the background to the kids. He tries to make the best of the situation, but it soon becomes clear that Dusty has returned to reclaim his family, which means he intends to push Brad out of the picture. Can Brad find a way to compete with the much cooler Dusty, or are his dreams of fatherhood coming to an end?
Entertainment Value: I have a soft spot for Will Ferrell, so while Daddy’s Home didn’t seem like it was in my wheelhouse, I rolled the dice. As it turns out, the movie is solid fun, but suffers because of the presence of Mark Wahlberg. He has zero comedic skill on showcase here and sucks all the humor out of numerous scenes, just tanking one scene after another. I read that Vince Vaughn was supposed to have the role, which would have been an ideal fit and made a huge difference, I think. Ferrell is his usual upbeat, over the top self and the other elements are all in place for a passable comedy, but Wahlberg is like an anchor that drags this movie to the bottom. But outside of his cancerous presence, the movie has some bright spots and you can see the potential for a brisk, fun movie. I do think the movie is a little too heavy handed with the rivalry aspect, where a more subtle, incremental showdown might have had better results. But the cast is great, with Ferrell, Thomas Haden Church, Linda Cardellini, and Hannibal Burress in prominent roles, backed by a colorful supporting cast. Wahlberg is the weak link here, one that dampens the entire movie, but everyone else seems to be on point. There are still some decent laughs here, but I feel the potential of the premise winds up wasted, as one of the leads is totally miscast and that shadows the experience. But if you’re a fan of Ferrell, it is still worth a rental.
No nakedness. Just some references to Ferrell having oddly shaped testicles, but that’s all there is. No blood, but Ferrell is put through some wild things here, including multiple clinical deaths. A motorcycle stunt is fun in theory, but looks so fake, it loses a lot of the wildness. The CGI in the scene looks like a Sega Dreamcast cut scene, not what you want in a major motion picture. The same can be said for a skateboarding accident, which also features abysmal CGI. So as usual, Ferrell endures a chain of abuse and accidents, but no bloodshed is involved. The dialogue has some ridiculous banter and exchanges, with Ferrell able to make even mundane conversations have an absurd feel. I can only imagine how much funnier his interactions would have been with Vaughn, instead of lifeless Wahlberg, however. As funny as Ferrell can be at times, Wahlberg’s lack of even basic comedic skill really brings down the humor. Even so, there are some great lines in here, especially from Ferrell. No real craziness, as this one follows the usually comedy guidelines. The terrible CGI in some of the stunt scenes is wacky, but not worth adding to the score.
Overall Insanity: 0/10