A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Daddy's Home 2 may look like a family-friendly holiday-themed film from the ads, but many parents will find it inappropriate for younger kids. It has lots of sexual content and iffy messages about sex and gender roles: Mel Gibson's character is presented as a "stud" who effortlessly attracts women half or even a third of his age; they seem happy to have no-strings-attached sex with him. Viewers also hear about him bedding two women at once ("that went into extra innings," he leers to his grandson). A young boy is teased frequently for his crush on a girl; a kiss he plants on a different girl later is presented as a win for him, but no attention is paid to her feelings about the kiss. In general, female characters are given short shrift compared to male ones. Violence is played for laughs but is surprisingly strong: A chainsaw almost decapitates a man, snow tubers cartwheel down a mountain, and a young girl accidentally shoots her grandpa in the shoulder before killing two wild turkeys (offscreen). A scene in which two young girls get drunk on stolen eggnog is also presented comically; there are no consequences for their actions. Language includes "ass," "bitch," "damn," and more, plus insults that imply that the (male) recipients are weak or unmasculine ("candy ass," "ladies," etc.). Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, and John Lithgow co-star alongside Gibson.
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What's the story?
DADDY'S HOME 2, the sequel to 2015's co-parenting comedy Daddy's Home, reunites the comic team of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, whose characters have laid to rest the rivalry they experienced in the first movie, when Dusty (Wahlberg) appeared to wreak havoc in the life of Brad (Ferrell); Brad's wife/Dusty's ex, Sarah (Linda Cardellini); and Dusty and Sarah's two kids, whom Brad is tenderly step-parenting. Now Dusty and Brad are proud co-dads, operating like a precision machine to get the kids fed, educated, entertained, and nurtured. And it looks like this year, they're even going to get the calm family Christmas the kids have been wishing for. But things get complicated when the family realizes that Dusty's tough-guy father, Kurt (Mel Gibson), and Brad's cuddly dad (John Lithgow) are both paying holiday visits this year. When the whole clan winds up in a rental house for a week, they'll need to set aside their differences and learn to work together -- or risk ruining Christmas for everyone.
Is it any good?
The stars have chemistry and comedy chops we've seen proof of in other, better movies -- so it's hard to blame this crass comedy's sour, unpleasant undercurrent on them. But although Daddy's Home 2, like the first movie, seems to be positioning itself as the kind of family comedy you might go see together over Christmas, it's doubtful that parents will want their kids to see the movie's kids getting drunk, enthusiastically shooting wild turkeys, talking back to their elders, ignoring everyone in the room to scroll through the iPhone hiding their face, etc., etc. They'll be even less pleased with Gibson's character arc, in which Kurt is transformed from "unfeeling chick magnet" to "gruffly affectionate dad (who's still a chick magnet)." It may be possible that there's a universe in which a grizzled 60-something man is catnip for gorgeous college coeds -- but it's not the world we currently live in, even though the movie describes Gibson as "beautiful" and "carved from Gibraltar." (Gibson's complicated personal life only adds more ick to his part.)
For their part, Ferrell and Wahlberg are great comic foils for each other. And this time around, their rivalry is more about who's the better dad than who's the manliest man, which is a positive change. But Gibson's Kurt -- and the many other explicitly offensive messages about men and women (a female character is urged to cover her midriff like a "nice girl," a boy is exhorted to play a sport "like a real man," etc.) still make this an iffy pick for young viewers, despite the antics and pratfalls that may grab their interest. Worst of all is a scene near the movie's end, in which a boy who's been teased for liking a girl is told by all the adults to go kiss that girl -- and, instead, he plants a surprise kiss on another girl. Is she dismayed by the kiss? Surprised? Horrified? The movie doesn't ask -- or care. She's an object to be triumphed over, a mark of a boy's impending manhood, not a human being with feelings. Later, young girls (and one boy, who has a cheeky expression) line up to kiss the other boy underneath the mistletoe, which the movie seems to find charming and funny, as if that boy is a womanizer-to-be in the Grandpa Kurt mold. In a movie that wants to give us messages about togetherness and families, these and other scenes strike a regressive note that make all the gags and absurdity a lot less fun.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about crass comedies and why they appeal to so many viewers. Could Daddy's Home 2 still have been funny with fewer raunchy jokes? Although there are kids at the heart of this story, is the movie OK for kids? Why or why not?
How do Brad and Dusty depict different kinds of men/fatherhood? Are they portrayed in a stereotypical way? How are different types of women and motherhood represented by Sarah and Karen? Are these portrayals as complex and emotional as the way fatherhood and masculinity are explored?
What does the movie have to say about blended families? Is it possible to find positive takeaways within the over-the-top antics? Are genuine human emotions on display in this movie? Did anything touch you emotionally?
- In theaters: November 10, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: February 20, 2018
- Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, John Lithgow
- Director: Sean Anders
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Holidays
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: suggestive material and some language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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