Movie Review: DADDY’S HOME

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daddy's homeParamount Pictures
2015
PG-13

“Here’s a question for you. What do kids need more, a father or a dad? What’s the difference? The way I see it, darn near anyone can be a father, but not everyone has the patience or the devotion to be a dad. As for me, I’ve always wanted to be a dad. Let me tell you, I love it! Yeah! And I love my Ford Flex. It treats me to a smooth ride, and you know what? It didn’t break the bank. Room enough for the whole family.”

Brad, who always dreamed of having the perfect family, is determined to become the best step-dad to his new wife’s children. But when their biological father Dusty shows up unexpectedly, Brad’s idyllic family life is turned upside down and he must go toe-to-toe with Dusty in this hilarious family comedy…

I have to say, I am rather amused at how the description above from the back of the DVD cover describes this movie as “hilarious”. Perhaps the writer was being sarcastic? Or, maybe he did find this movie hilarious, and I’m just being cynical?

I’m sure there would be some people out there that would consider this collaboration between Will Ferrell and Mark “Don’t Call Me Marky Mark” Wahlberg to be the height of comedic perfection. Or at least comes close to that pinnacle. Me, I found Daddy’s Home to be amusing at best, but certainly not a laugh-out-loud exercise in hilariousness.

Anyway, Daddy’s Home has Ferrell playing a stepfather who is rather enjoying his role in his family life, until one day the children’s biological father shows up and begins to wedge himself into the situation. This, of course, leads to a constant stream of one-upmanship, with the standard wackiness ensuing, which ultimately culminates in the two coming to terms and becoming besties. The end.

I have to admit that Daddy’s Home does have a certain old-timey charm, rather like those family-friendly comedies from the 1950s, only with a bit more mild crudeness. As a matter of fact, if I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that the premise for this movie might have been a rejected concept for a TGIF sitcom from the 1990s. And admittedly, both Wahlberg and Ferrell do have a pretty good chemistry going, this being the second movie they’ve been teamed up together on. But as far as favorite characters go, this goes to the peripheral characters of the out-of-work guy who crashes at the house, and Ferrell’s character’s boss, both acting as kind of a Greek Chorus to the story. The very best part of the movie comes at the end, though, when John Cena shows up to the tune of Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls”. Awesomeness achieved.

Overall, I found Daddy’s Home to be a mildly amusing and…what’s that emotion…opposite of hate-filled…um…”heart warming”, I’m told, and mostly inoffensive way to kill 90 minutes. Really, I only watched this because I kind of want to see the upcoming sequel, due to wanting to see Mel Gibson and John Lithgow play off each other. Otherwise, not bad for a rental.

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Movie Review: ELF

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elf movie posterNew Line Cinema
2003
PG

“I’m sorry I ruined your lives, and crammed eleven cookies into the VCR.”

Once upon a Christmas Eve, an orphan baby crawled into Santa’s bag of gifts and was taken to the North Pole. Raised by Papa Elf, Buddy comes to realize he doesn’t fit in with the other elves. Determined to find a place where he belongs, Buddy searches for his real dad–in New York City! In the Big Apple, Buddy finds out why his dad is on the naughty list! But almost importantly, he sees that the world is seriously lacking in Christmas spirit, which causes Santa all kinds of problems! So with the help of a beautiful department store elf, Buddy tries to teach his dad and the world the true meaning of Christmas spirit and to prove to everyone that Santa really exists!

Elf is one of those movies that you would think I would not like all that much at the very least. First off, it’s a Christmas movie, and if there’s one type of Holiday-themed movie I dislike the most, it’s the Christmas movie. They’re more formulaic than the zombie movie, with their saccharine bombardment of warm fuzzy feelings being crammed down your throat, usually with the aide of cute adorable whatnots and an ending that lulls you into a false sense of optimistic security…

Okay, sorry, I promised myself I wouldn’t let my inner curmudgeon run rampant. He smells manufactured Holiday Cheer(TM), and that’s like a shark smelling blood in the water. Anyway…

Once in a while, though, a Christmas movie comes along that, despite being as formulaic as they come and stars a comedian actor that I’m more or less “meh” about, somehow works together to make me enjoy it. Normally, this kind of emotional manipulation to make me feel things that are foreign to my cold, unfeeling blackened heart makes me want to do violence to the nearest Christmas carollers to happen upon the dwelling place of the METAL DEMIGOD, and decorate my trees with their entrails in the spirit of the Yuletide season. But this…this is an anomaly.

Somehow, the story of a human that was raised by Santa’s elves after a bit of a mix-up during his usual deliveries, coming of the age of realization that he is, in fact, not an elf but a human, and goes off in search of his true lineage in the magical land of New York, with wackiness ensuing, makes me do something my human friends refer to as “smiling”, which makes my face hurt. A kind of a…I cannot describe it outside of a “warmth” of some sort that, while initially triggering my blind rage, smoothed over to tingly enjoyment that itched more than I’m comfortable with. Truly, after watching this, it fills me with the urge to embrace the humans that I pass by, not in a crushing death blow, but in what I’ve come to understand is called a “hug”, and is considered more socially acceptable than life-crushing death embraces.

This, as you may have imagined, does not sit well with the METAL DEMIGOD. This is why I cannot watch Elf more than just once a year, around this season you refer to as “Christmas”. It fills me with warm fuzzies, something I only allow to infest my being but once a year. You too may find yourself enjoying Elf. And if you haven’t seen it, might I invite you to do so. Soon.