Mel Gibson, Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell and John Lithgow
Daddy’s Home 2 doubles down on the daddies, adding Mel Gibson and John Lithgow to the potent duo of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. Having Mel back would be fantastic, if he were not playing such a caustic chauvinist amidst the current Hollywood climate. His distasteful Kurt, a former astronaut and serial womanizer, really hurts an already tone-deaf but mindlessly charming holiday comedy.
Brad and Dusty (Ferrell and Wahlberg) may now be co-dads and pals, but the holidays bring renewed hostilities, especially when you add the dads’ dads, played by Lithgow and Gibson. The filmmakers are way too enamored with the gag of Brad and his dad kissing on the lips. Still, Lithgow rules as Don; his gabby former postal worker absolutely owns the movie. Unfortunately, a character that probably seemed harmless during filming now looks absolutely horrific. Kurt advises his grandson, Dylan (the genuinely sweet Owen Wilder Vaccaro), to give his crush a kiss followed by a swat on the caboose. What once seemed a squeamish joke becomes unacceptable (as it should be). That Gibson imbues this pig with his own brand of charismatic sociopathy only further harms the movie’s attempts at family humor.
Ferrell and Wahlberg continue to charm, and Lithgow blows everyone out of the water. Gibson’s casting would have been brilliant if the writing were more nuanced. And relying on Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” for multiple gags would be fine, if the movie aimed to satirize that song’s cloying cultural insensitivity, rather than simply milk its nostalgic value. John Cena is unfairly wasted, as well. For what it’s worth, I laughed more than I should have.