Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell star in a scene from the movie "Daddy's Home." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
By Kurt Jensen
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — The comedy "Daddy’s Home" (Paramount) begins and ends with sound pronouncements about the challenges of fatherhood and step-parenting. "It’s easy to be a father," Will Ferrell’s character, Brad, intones in a voiceover. "It’s difficult to be a dad."
In between these brief reflections, though, the movie is just a random selection of crotch-level stunts that could have been lifted from one of Adam Sandler’s least respectable efforts.
So it’s difficult to surmise the film’s intended audience. All the more so, since the children at the center of the action, Megan (Scarlett Estevez) and Dylan (Owen Vaccaro), are barely old enough for elementary school.
Director Sean Anders, who co-wrote the screenplay with Brian Burns and John Morris, has Ferrell playing another variation on middle-aged fathers facing identity crises.
Sensitive Brad, successful as the manager of a smooth-jazz radio operation and infertile because of a misfired dental X-ray, is devoted to his new wife,
Sarah (Linda Cardellini), and the above-mentioned duo, born of her marriage to Dusty (Mark Wahlberg).
Brad’s careful attention is seldom rewarded by the kids’ affection. But his exercise of parental duties is spot-on perfect, whether he’s coaching their sports teams, leading outdoor expeditions or teaching Sunday school.
In particular, he knows the importance of "staying inside the cones," a reference to the strictures involved in picking children up after school that’s meant to expresses Brad’s willingness to accept mild but daily humiliations as the price of his devotion.
So when the muscular and charismatic Dusty, whose past is somewhat murky, shows up for what becomes an extended visit, chaos and a frenzied, high-spending competition for the love of the children ensue.
Two twists keep this story from becoming "Mrs. Doubtfire": First, although Dusty somehow knows how to mouth all the disarming child-raising nostrums, he hasn’t the discipline for the endless rounds of parental duties. Second, Dusty’s presence as a competitor increases Brad’s fecundity, which is explained in a leering visit to a fertility clinic.
The children are merely props in the alpha-male escapades, which include a motorcycle mishap, skateboarding on a half-pipe, and Brad’s big drunken meltdown at a New Orleans Pelicans game.
The film contains some nonlethal violence, a frivolous attitude toward human sexuality and reproduction, fleeting rear male nudity, coarse banter and frequent crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
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Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.
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