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Daddy's Home 2 (2017)

Paramount Home Entertainment
4K UHD Released: 2/20/2018

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/7/2018

When the movie people set out to make a sequel, one would assume that they strive to at least match the quality which made the previous film a hit (or at least successful enough to warrant a sequel). But, as we all know, most sequels are let-downs. However, every now and then, we get a sequel which is actually better than the first film. Sometimes, this is due to the fact that it is simply a better movie, as more money and resources were available for the follow-up, for example Terminator 2. In other cases, the first movie was so bad that a sequel with any semblance of appeal will come across as being superior to the prior miss. This is certainly the case with Daddy's Home 2.

As you've probably forgotten, Daddy's Home introduced us to Brad (Will Ferrell), a straight-laced, uptight man who is married to Sara (Linda Cardellini), and helping to raise her two children, Dylan (Owen Wilder Vaccaro) and Megan (Scarlett Estevez). When Brad met the kid's biological father, Dusty (Mark Wahlberg), there was immediate tension and competition. But, as Daddy's Home 2 opens, we see that Brad and Dusty are now getting along as co-dads, as Dusty has settled in with his new wife, Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio) and adopted daughter, Adrianna (Didi Costine). It's the holiday season and Brad and Dusty have decided that everyone should celebrate together, instead of shuttling the kids back and forth. This includes the newly arrived grandfathers -- Brad's dad, Donald (John Lithgow) and Dusty's dad, Kurt (Mel Gibson). These two men are mirror images of their sons and the culture clash begins immediately. When everyone moves into a vacation home, at Kurt's suggestion, tensions really begin to run high and the strong alliance formed between Brad and Dusty begins to unravel.

Daddy's Home came for Producers Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, who were responsible for three of the best comedies of the new millennium -- Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Stepbrothers, with The Campaign and Anchorman 2 serving as admirable efforts. However, they've also experienced some definite misses, such as The Other Guys and Get Hard. Daddy's Home was a big miss, as it was completely tone-deaf. Ferrell is best when he's playing stupid characters who aren't aware of how ridiculous they are. Brad was simply too tightly wound to be funny. And, I've never been crazy about the pairing of Ferrell and Wahlberg. I get that they are opposites, but I just don't see Wahlberg keeping us with Ferrell's insanity.

Given that, I went into Daddy's Home 2 expecting very little. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the film is much more palatable than its predecessor. The question is, why? For starters, having Brad and Dusty (sort of) getting along eliminated one of the biggest problems with the first film, which was that the rivalry was cringe-worthy and only hurt the movie (despite the fact that it was the basic premise). For once, expanding the cast actually helped a movie. By making Kurt the villain and giving Brad someone to whom he can relate in his father, the emotions and tension are spread out a bit and the audience isn't forced to simply pick from one of two sides. Things have also been streamlined here so that little is occurring outside of main storyline. (It wasn't until I went back and watched Daddy's Home on 4K that I remembered that Brad works at a light jazz radio station).

The overall tone of the movie is an improvement as well. Sure, things still get mean-spirited at times, but as everything isn't being directed at Brad, this movie doesn't feel as wicked as the first movie. Brad is much looser in this movie, which means that Ferrell can bring forth more of the general craziness which defines his best characters. I can't say that the writing is more clever here, but the good news is that this movie is actually funny. Unlike the first film, which elicited just a few chuckles, there are genuine laugh-out-loud moments here. The musical flashback and thermostat scene really shine here, as they are the kind of ridiculous but relatable things which have been the highlights of McKay and Ferrell's more successful films.

The real feather in Daddy's Home 2's cap is the spot-on casting of John Lithgow and Mel Gibson. They truly steal the show here. Yes, I know that putting Gibson in anything, either in front of or behind the camera, is controversial, but he definitely makes a great villain here. The ever lovable Lithgow shines in his role and it's great that he's willing to be just as goofy as everyone else here. Don't get me wrong, Daddy's Home 2 is still a very middle-of-the road comedy, which doesn't little if anything to challenge Hollywood norms, but it does offer some laughs and, unlike its predecessor, I can actually recommend it for a rental.

Daddy's Home 2 certainly makes going to the movies look like fun on 4K UHD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 60 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no noticeable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors are excellent, most notably reds and greens, and the image is never overly dark or bright. I only saw a hint of the brightness changes which hampers some 4Ks. The level of detail is very good, and the depth is notable. The Disc carries a Dolby Atmos audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The snowblower sequence is the place to go to get an idea of the surround and subwoofer effects here. They aren't action-movie quality, but they do work well, as does the surround sound heard with the music and audience noise during the finale.

The extras for Daddy's Home 2 are found on the Blu-ray Disc included in this set. "Making a Sequel" (5 minutes) has the cast and creative team simply chatting about what drive the ideas behind a second film and the atmosphere on the set. "Look Who's Back" (7 minutes) explores the cast and characters and how getting the group of actors to return was integral to the film. "Co-Dads: Will & Mark" (7 minutes) focuses on how Brad and Dusty interact and grow in the film. "The New Dads in Town: Mel & John" (8 minutes) allows Gibson and Lithgow to talk about their characters, as the others discuss the importance of bringing new layers to the story. "Captain Sully" (2 minutes) examines (and ruins) the film's great cameo. The Disc contains seven DELETED/EXTENDED/ ALTERNATE SCENES which run about 11 minutes, only two of which truly feel new. We finish with a 4-minute GAG REEL.

Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long