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Daddy's Home (2015)
Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/22/2016
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/10/2016; Updated 2/6/2018
Is there anything wrong with wanting to be happy and satisfied? There seems to be a very fine line today between seeking satisfaction and coming across as spoiled. (If you've watched just one episode of House Hunters, then you know exactly what I mean by this.) Many feel that, given situations around the world, many in the U.S. should be happy with what we have. But, if one has the opportunity to be content, shouldn't one strive for that? Why this deep conversation? Because I'm a fan of Will Ferrell, and lately, I've been deeply unsatisfied with his films. Looking at Ferrell's filmography, he stays very busy, making cameos in many things, but his last few outings as the star haven't been what I was looking for. Does this make me spoiled? Can Daddy's Home bring back the Ferrell that I love?
Ferrell stars in Daddy's Home as Brad Whitaker, a man who considers himself to be very lucky. He's married to Sara (Linda Cardellini) and he's jumped into being a dad to her two children, Dylan (Owen Vaccaro) and Megan (Scarlett Estevez). Brad has a nice job at a smooth jazz radio station and he tries to make everyone around him happy. Things change when Sara's ex, Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) comes to visit. Dusty is a muscle-bound tough guy who trains athletes for Iron Man competitions. Dusty makes it immediately clear to Brad that he's here to win over the affection of his children. Brad assumes that he will win with kindness, and he's unprepared for the mind games which Dusty plays. Brad now finds himself in competition with a man who can seemingly do no wrong. Does Brad have what it takes to play dirty so that the kids will love him more?
On paper, Daddy's Home shows promise. We've got Will Ferrell in a lead role and his long-time producing partner Adam McKay is on-board as a producer. The film was directed by Sean Anders who wrote the recent surprise hit We're the Millers and directed the under rated Horrible Bosses 2 andSex Drive. Perhaps McKay was too busy focusing on directing the Oscar-winning The Big Short to pay attention to what was happening on Daddy's Home. Perhaps Will Ferrell was spread too thin, especially given the odd work which he's been doing on TV as of late. What ever the reason, Daddy's Home is not a good movie.
I write "whatever the reason", when I know exactly what the #1 reason is -- Mark Wahlberg. I didn't like the pairing of Wahlberg and Will Ferrell in 2010's The Other Guys, and I really didn't like it here. It takes two things to do well in a Will Ferrell movie like this. First of all, you have to be clever. Wahlberg is amongst the best at coming across as street-tough and gritty (and often confused), but he has never struck me as someone who is the least bit clever. He often doesn't seem as if he's in on the joke. The second thing is that one must have no shame whatsoever and be willing to do anything for the joke. Wahlberg definitely doesn't have this, as it appears that he must always maintain his "cool" factor and doesn't want to dive fully into comedy.
The film's other Achilles' heel is how it struggles with tone. The emotional struggles faced by step-children is not really a great jumping off point for a comedy, but in the right hands, it can work. The problem with Daddy's Home is that it want to live in the same space as Meet the Parents, in which the film’s hero is constantly saying or doing the wrong thing and made to look the fool. One walks a fine-line when dealing in this sort of “cringe” comedy and Anders can’t make it work here. Brad is simply too oblivious to his own issues and his naivety really hurts the movie. In Meet the Parents, Greg knew that he was losing and his cynical attitude actually helped the audience to his side. We are supposed to root for Brad here, but both he and Dusty are so under-written that we ultimately don’t care who wins.
It’s rare to see a major motion picture whiff on as many points as Daddy's Home does, but there’s very little to like here. The script takes a touchy subject and then is not sure what to do with it. The tone is all over the place. Ferrell seems to be going through the motions here and every other character comes across as miscast (Cardellini, Hannibal Burress) or just annoying (Wahlberg, Thomas Haden Church). When the biggest laugh comes from a quip in the special features, you know that something has gone wrong. The whole thing feels like one of Adam Sandler’s recent works, and that’s not a compliment. So, here’s my plea to Will Ferrell and Adam McKay -- Get John C. Reilly back on board. Let’s see if you can re-capture the magic of Talladega Nights and Stepbrothers. Even if you only get half-way there, it will be better than Daddy's Home.
Daddy's Home revealed all of the potentially funny moments in the trailer on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the picture is never overly dark or bright. The detail of the image is good, as we can make out textures on objects and the depth is adequate. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects show good separation. The surround sound effects really come into play during the dance finale and the basketball game. Some of the in-film music delivers good bass response and really fills the speakers.
The Daddy's Home Blu-ray Disc contains a wealth of extra features. "The Making of Daddy's Home" (12 minutes) features comments from the cast and creative team, as well as some on-set footage. The discussions focus mainly on the story, themes, and characters, as well as a brief talk of how the project came together. "Daddy-Off' (7 minutes) is an examination of how the battle between Brad and Dusty escalates. "Daddy Daughter Dance" (5 minutes) shows the preparation which went into the confrontation which occurred at the dance. We see how the crew shot a scene at a real NBA game in "Halftime Stunt" (9 minutes), including comments from Kobe Bryant. "Tony Hawk: Skater Double" (4 minutes) shows how the ubiquitous skating legend was on-set to work on the skateboard scene. Child actors Owen Vaccaro and Scarlett Estevez are profiled in “Child’s Play” (5 minutes). “Hannibal Buress: The Perfect Houseguest” (6 minutes) offers an on-set interview with the comedian, who is actually funnier here than in the movie. We get one “Blooper” which runs about 2 minutes, most of which is set up. The Disc contains five DELETED AND EXTENDED SCENES which run about 8 minutes. This doesn’t include any new characters or subplots.
On February 20, 2018, Paramount Home Entertainment brought Daddy's Home to 4K UHD. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 75 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only a minute amount of grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and lifelike, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture is very well-balanced and doesn't show the shimmering or changes in light that plague some 4K transfers. The picture shows a nice amount of depth and the actors are clearly distinct from the backgrounds. The level of detail is also notable, and skintones look good. The Disc carries a DTS-X audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This track is most likely identical to the one found on the Blu-ray Disc release, but I found this track to be richer and to offer more consistent surround sound effects. The music, most notably the use of "Thunderstruck", delivers strong bass effects, and we get some moments of nice detail in the surround channels. The stereo effects do a nice job of highlighting sounds coming from off-screen. If you are a fan of the film, this is certainly worth an upgrade.
The extra features on the 4K UHD release are the same as those found on the Blu-ray Disc.
Review Copyright 2016/2018 by Mike Long