One of the things that made Will Ferrell so great on Saturday Night Live was his versatility. For every out-there cheerleader, there was a guy who drove a Dodge Stratus (for the record, the Dodge Stratus guy is one of my all-time favourites, the cheerleaders, not so much). But even the Dodge Stratus guy ended up being over-the-top, you just didn’t know it at first. The one thing we never really saw was low-key Will Ferrell.
His movie roles continued that trend with only one or two exceptions (like Stranger than Fiction and judging from the trailer, Bewitched). Of course, with those low-key movies being flops, in almost everything else we have gotten from Ferrell he’s a cartoon (Anchorman, Zoolander, Blades of Glory), a cliche (Get Hard, The Other Guys, A Deadly Adoption), or both (Semi-Pro, Talladega Nights). And more often than not, those movies have disappointed.
With all that in mind, and especially in light of the awfulness that was Get Hard, my expectations for Daddy’s Home could not have been lower, because a half-assed Will Ferrell riff on a loser step-dad is one of the least-funny characters I could picture.
But you know what? Will Ferrell’s step-dad in Daddy’s Home isn’t a cartoon or a cliche. Maybe he’s a bit of a loser but he’s also a sweet and genuine guy that is loved by everyone around him (even his step-kids are warming up to him). And then the kids’ sleazy, deadbeat biological dad (Mark Wahlberg) appears and throws everything into chaos.
For the first time in years, we finally get something fresh from Ferrell. He is clearly using his whole ass in Daddy’s Home and it’s glorious. With Ferrell bringing his A-game, everyone else steps up as well. Mark Wahlberg plays (or is?) a fantastic charming asshole, and I also thoroughly enjoyed Thomas Haden Church as Ferrell’s boss and Hannibal Burress as Ferrell’s contractor/unwanted houseguest.
Daddy’s Home deserves praise as well for a script that avoids the easy way out and sets up something greater. It is wonderful to see jokes come together the way they do in Daddy’s Home. A perfect example is the daddy-daughter dance sequence, which has to be seen to be believed. It’s set up so well that in hindsight it’s obvious but I didn’t see it coming until it happened. Daddy’s Home delivers these types of scenes again and again, right until the credits roll, and will keep you laughing the whole time.
Daddy’s Home gets a score of nine long and shiny broadswords out of ten. Be sure to catch it when it opens on December 25.