This holiday season, the producers of “Daddy’s Home 2” are hoping that movie audiences will once again clamor to see the humorous antics and witty dialogue of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in a comic story of dad vs. stepdad. However, while the original was a breath of fresh air in 2015, this new sequel already seems dated with very little new to say. There are already a number of warning signs of why “Daddy’s Home 2” won’t be funny.
“Daddy’s Home 2” is entering a tough season for Hollywood comedies
2017 has not been a good year for comedies. The only comedic hit of the year thus far has been “Girls Trip,” the summer comedy starring Tiffany Haddish, Queen Latifah, Regina Hall and Jada Pinkett Smith. That film raked in $115 million. However, look at all the other comedic flops of the year – “Baywatch,” “Rough Night” and “The House.” Movie audiences just aren’t into comedies this year.
But, for the sake of argument, let’s say that “Daddy’s Home 2” equals the box office take of “Girls Trip.” Well, that would still represent a huge cut from the original (“Daddy’s Home”), which brought in an astounding $150 million. You can see the problem here – no matter how well “Daddy’s Home 2” does at the box office, it’s going to have an almost impossible time doing as well as the original.
Complicating matters even further is the fact that two other potential comedy hits – “Pitch Perfect 3” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” – are also due out around the 2017 holiday season. That’s a lot of extra competition for the attention of movie audiences.
And here’s one more wrinkle – “Father Figures” (another “dad comedy”) is also coming out around the holidays. This film stars the comic duo Owen Wilson and Ed Helms (of “The Hangover” fame), and looks to be far funnier. In this film, Owen Wilson and Ed Helms must try to track down their real dad on a “paternity quest.”
“Daddy’s Home 2” is messing with the comedic formula that worked so well
The fundamental premise of “Daddy’s Home” was that stepdad Brad Whitaker (played by Will Ferrell) had to compete for the affection of his kids with real dad Dusty Mayron (played by Mark Wahlberg). One was a gentle, unassuming wimp and the other was a macho cool guy. That was a very simple storyline – and one that movie audiences immediately “got.” It was funny seeing Brad trying to become the new “cool guy” – riding motorcycles, doing stunts on the roof of his house, and hanging out at NBA games with his kids. This was a comedic formula that worked: wimp vs. cool guy.
But now look what director Sean Anders is doing with “Daddy’s Home 2” – he’s trying to “double the fun” by bringing in Mel Gibson and John Lithgow to play the daddies of the daddies. Oh, and we’re also going to have John Cena as another dad – the real biological father. Whoa, this is already confusing. You’re now going to have dad vs. dad, granddad vs. granddad, and dad-granddad duo vs. dad-granddad duo.
You can see the problem faced by Anders – he couldn’t just repackage and recycle all the jokes from “Daddy’s Home” and call it a sequel. So he’s trying to convince audiences that things will be even funnier when he adds in Gibson and Lithgow. He’s literally trying to “double the fun.”
But this might actually backfire with audiences. Lithgow will play a kind, gentle, doting father while Gibson will play a tough-talking, macho and swaggering dad. So Anders is essentially doubling down on the narrative arc of the first movie – now we will have two swaggering macho dads and two weak, wimpy dads. It’s hard to see how this new comedic formula is really going to double anyone’s fun.
“Daddy’s Home 2” won’t be funny because of Mel Gibson
At one time, Mel Gibson was one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood. He was an action hero, then a romantic lead, and then a budding comic actor. But then came his arrest for a DUI in 2006 and a lot of controversy surrounding his anti-Semitic remarks. He basically became radioactive for Hollywood studios. Consider that the last studio comedy that Mel Gibson appeared in was back in 2000 with “What Women Want.”
It has literally been 17 years since Gibson has been in a comedy, and there’s no guarantee that the black cloud that has been following him during that time has fully lifted. Yes, he had a big breakthrough with “Hacksaw Ridge” back in 2016, but are movie audiences finally ready to welcome him back?
If “Daddy’s Home 2” were coming out during the summer, it might be a completely different story. Movie audiences might be more forgiving then. But this is being marketed as a holiday movie that will bring families closer together! Probably the last person you’d want to have in a movie is someone like Mel Gibson, who carries so much extra baggage with him.
“Daddy’s Home 2” was a sequel that never should have been made
There are some sequels that get made for legitimate purposes – there was some plot detail that needed to be resolved from the original, or there was some future event in the original that was hinted at, but never developed. However, most sequels are made for just one reason: the potential money involved. And, unfortunately, “Daddy’s Home 2” seems more like the latter the former.
Even the trailer for “Daddy’s Home 2” doesn’t seem very convincing. If anything, adding John Lithgow and Mel Gibson to the mix just makes things more confusing. Adding these two as new dads detracts from the original comic premise – wimpy dad vs. cool dad – that made the first film so much fun to watch.
In contrast, “Daddy’s Home 2” seems like a film that was made by a committee. The decision to make the film “PG-13” rather than “R” was a calculated bid to make this a “family movie” for the holidays. The inclusion of Lithgow and Gibson – big-time Hollywood names from a generation ago – are meant to bring in older moviegoers, who are notoriously hard to attract to the movie cinema. The final takeaway, unfortunately, is that “Daddy’s Home 2” won’t be funny. Movie audiences, you have been warned.