Susan Granger’s review of “Daddy’s Home 2” (Paramount Pictures)
Picking up on where the 2015 comedy left off, the dueling daddies – macho Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberg), ex-husband of Sara (Linda Cardellini), and her new husband, manchild Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell) – have become close friends, cordially sharing custody of Dylan (Owen Vaccaro) and Megan (Scarlett Estevez).
Dusty is now married to Karen (model Alessandra Ambrosio), becoming stepfather to Adrianna (Didi Costine), Karen’s daughter with Roger (John Cena). Got that straight?
Instead to shuttling the kids back and forth, they’ve decided to celebrate Christmas together. Which sounds wonderful until Dusty’s misogynistic dad, Kurt (Mel Gibson), decides to visit and Brad’s dad, Don (John Lithgow), shows up alone, explaining that Brad’s mother is tending a sick relative.
Seeds of discontent are sown as soon as homophobic Kurt spies sensitive Brad kissing his effete dad “hello” at the airport. By the time they do their third liplock, the gag has gone beyond stale.
Deciding to take the whole family out of town for the holidays, Kurt rents an Airbnb cabin in the mountains so they can enjoy the snow and play with loaded guns. What could go wrong?
Sloppily scripted by John Morris (“We’re the Millers”) and director Sean Anders (“Horrible Bosses 2”), the episodic, dysfunctional family plot and subsequent chaos bears an uncanny resemblance to “A Bad Mom Christmas” – with a gender reversal. Ho-ho-humbug.
When casting was completed many months ago, it may have seemed like a good idea to make bad-boy Mel Gibson a crass, cynical, sexist, former astronaut but, since Hollywood’s now beseiged by sexual harassment and assault scandals, he comes across as simply repugnant.
Back in 2006, Gibson made headlines with an anti-Semitic rant during a second DUI arrest and, in 2011, pleaded no contest to battery against a girlfriend. So it’s not amusing when Kurt regales his grandchildren: “Hey, kids, I’ve got one for you…Two dead hookers wash up on the shore…”
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Daddy’s Home 2” is a mean-spirited, toxic 2. It’s dismal.