Mild-mannered radio executive Brad (Will Ferrell) strives to become the best stepdad to his wife's two children, but complications ensue when their freewheeling and freeloading real father, Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) arrives, forcing him to compete for the affection of the kids.
Review by Louise Keller:
Sometimes we all need a dose of nonsense, and this zany comedy fits the bill perfectly with its continual stream of hilarious jousting between Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. Fatherhood is the theme and director Sean Anders squeezes every little bit of juice from the Daddy cocktail, spiking it with the ridiculous, but ensuring there's always a reality reference point. It might be predictable, but it's a clever script, that travels in one direction before offering a few surprises. Meanwhile, Ferrell and Wahlberg are both in great form as the Stepdad and Realdad respectively, whose differences both physical and emotional are the focus of attention and butt of jokes throughout.
By the time we meet Mark Wahlberg's hunky Dusty, the ultimate stud who doesn't sweat while doing pushups, has a cool motorbike and the uncanny ability to successfully 'play' everyone he runs into, we have already got the low-down on Will Ferrell's softie Brad. In his new Stepdad role, Brad loves making school lunches, picking up the kids from school and ferrying them around, reading night-time stories and cooking breakfast; he is highly emotional, relies on self-help books and has run away from conflict his entire life.
Playing on the fact that Brad is the ultimate pushover when leather-clad Dusty descends on his ex wife (Linda Cardellini) and two children (Scarlett Estevez, Owen Vaccaro), the film uses the competitive element between the two men to generate laughs. As Dusty and Brad vie for the children's affection and elevate their own standing through handyman skills, storytelling prowess, gift giving and celebrity knowhow, the stakes get higher and higher as Brad's virility comes into play. The nightly storytelling involving the fictitious step king becomes more and more cutting, while the scene in which the men's genitals become the focus of comparison is a hoot.
Beyond the slapstick humour are some funny ideas, involving Griff (Hannibal Buress), the handyman who Dusty invites to stay and Leo (Thomas Haden Church), Brad's radio station manager boss, whose constant out of school recounting of inappropriate personal stories is hilarious. Church is wonderful and Bobby Cannavale makes his scenes count as the fertility expert. The notion that conflict resolution and dancing can be interchanged is cleverly canvassed and by the time the narrative comes full circle, we have laughed a lot, recognized much about the flaws of human nature and witnessed the glue that keeps families together. I chuckled and giggled throughout and while the film may not be high-brow, it ticks all the right boxes in terms of where the story is headed as it reinforces the importance of family and reveals itself to have a sweet heart.
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DADDY'S HOME (PG)
CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell, Linda Cardellini, Alessandra Ambrosio, Thomas Haden Church
PRODUCER: Will Ferrell, Chris Henchy, Adam McKay, John Morris
DIRECTOR: Sean Anders
SCRIPT: Brian Burns, Sean Anders, John Morris
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Julio macat
EDITOR: Eric Kissack, Brad Wilhite
MUSIC: Michael Andrews
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Clayton Hartley
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2015