Daddy's Home 2

Daddy’s Home 2 ★★ 1/2

Daddy’s Home was the first Will Ferrell vehicle that left me stone-faced. He’s a gangly, doughy performer who’s been making me laugh for more than two decades with his dim, goofy characters, including his first pairing with Mark Wahlberg in The Other Guys. In that film from director Adam McKay (Anchorman, Talladega Nights and Step Brothers), the two were hilarious as mismatched police detectives. But the tepid Daddy’s Home that reunited the duo was pure torture to sit through. I’d always appreciated Ferrell’s R-rated antics, but he was completely neutered in Sean Anders’ 2015 family vehicle, where he played Brad Whitaker, a sensitive wimp who’s emasculated by Wahlberg’s alpha male, Dusty Mayron, the father of Brad’s stepchildren. The film was a huge hit, however, so here we are two years later with Anders’ creatively titled sequel, Daddy’s Home 2. Surprisingly, it’s not awful. Credit the addition of John Lithgow as Brad’s father, retired postal carrier Don, and especially Mel Gibson as Dusty’s dad, former space shuttle pilot Kurt. Mad Mel brings just the right amount of discomforting edge that Anders’ original so sorely lacked, and his inappropriate behavior (a winking riff on Gibson’s real-life persona) almost digs the Christmas-set film out from under a saccharine third act in which a snowstorm strands the warring clans in a movie theater together. I know how they feel. (At Assembly RowBoston Common, Fenway, Somerville and in the suburbs.) 

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