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story.lead_photo.caption Given their upbringing, Megan (Scarlett Estevez) and Dylan (Owen Vaccaro) have no shot whatsoever of growing up to be responsible adults. Still they are the most-centered humans in Daddy’s Home 2.

Next time Mark Wahlberg visits the confessional, he might ask, "Father, I know I've apologized for playing a porn star in Boogie Nights, but what is my penance for Daddy's Home 2?"

One can only imagine the penalty. Would it be being forced to listen to his old Marky Mark and the Not-So-Funky Bunch recordings on a loop? Or would the good father force him to watch the latter movie until he felt actual contrition? I don't think he'd need much repetition for that.

Daddy’s Home 2

71 Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini, Mel Gibson, John Lithgow, John Cena, Alessandra Ambrosio, Scarlett Estevez, Owen Vaccaro, Didi Costine

Director: Sean Anders

Rating: PG-13, for suggestive material and some language

Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Daddy's Home 2 makes me feel sorry for disparaging A Bad Moms Christmas. That movie is still lacking, but at least the filmmakers managed to get the most out of the actors who played the bad grandmas. Here director and co-writer Sean Anders (We're the Millers) assembles a decent cast but doesn't really give them anything worthwhile to do.

Unless you enjoy watching Will Ferrell repeating the pratfalls he took in the first movie or hearing overly familiar Christmas carols that you'll probably encounter blaring daily at every retail store for the next month, you'll get the feeling that you've done something that merits serious contrition. Anders actually repeats the near death gag from the first film to obviously diminished returns.

The gimmick here is now that co-dads Brad (Ferrell) and Dusty (Wahlberg) get along, their harmony is ruptured when they have to spend Christmas with their fathers Don (John Lithgow) and Kurt (Mel Gibson).

The first of several mistakes Anders and company make is making the obvious decision of having Lithgow play Don as an older version of Brad and Gibson performing Kurt as the senior version of Dusty.

It would have been funnier if they had done the opposite. If alpha male Dusty had the gregarious, gushingly emotional Don as a father, the gags could write themselves. His son's fear of commitment and his loner tendencies in the first movie would make sense, and it would have been fun to watch Wahlberg wince when Lithgow greets him by kissing him on the lips.

Playing a lecherous former astronaut, Gibson unintentionally reminds viewers Jack Nicholson's Oscar-winning turn in Terms of Endearment. Anders and company haven't given Gibson the same level of material that Nicholson had (it's hard to beat Larry McMurty or James L. Brooks at the peak of their powers). Perhaps Gibson is performing the same sort of penance that Wahlberg will be doing later, only we have to share in his misery.

Anders assembles several potentially amusing story threads, but can't stick with any of them. He reminds me of a dog confronting a park full of squirrels. He can't stick with one long enough to reach his prey.

In some of his recent films such as Trainwreck and Sisters, John Cena has demonstrated formidable comic chops because he's an obviously tough guy who has no fear of poking fun of himself. This time around, Anders simply asks him to be sullen -- a waste of time for all involved.

As if it were a plea from Viacom stockholders to customers, begging them to return to theaters, Daddy's Home 2 ends in a multiplex. The theater is playing a Liam Neeson action film. Even Neeson makes fun of some of his lesser offerings (he does have that certain set of skills), so this could have been a chance to coax some genuine giggles from the onscreen audience and the one currently enduring the film.

Instead, the feeling of indifference that taints the rest of Daddy's Home 2 infects this portion of the film as well. Perhaps the rugged Irish actor has also done something that will require several Hail Marys to requite.

MovieStyle on 11/10/2017

Print Headline: Daddy's Home 2


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