Mel Gibson is a depressing addition to the line-up of this horrendously offensive comedy sequel
Tone-deaf, mean-spirited and woefully unfunny, Daddy's Home 2's biggest offence is that it's being marketed as a family-friendly holiday comedy. The outdated and damaging messages about relationships, gender and, particularly, toxic masculinity should be allowed nowhere near a young, impressionable audience.
After the events of the first film, which saw Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) and Brad (Will Ferrell) engage in a battle of one-upmanship after Brad became step-dad to Dusty's kids, the pair have now become the best of friends. Yet when they are forced to spend the holidays together, in the company not only of their partners and kids but also their respective fathers (Mel Gibson and John Lithgow), tensions simmer until they reach boiling point.
While much of the movie's slapstick humour is aimed low – Brad gets felled by a cell phone tower he mistakes for a Christmas tree, a runaway snowplow destroys the festive lights — it's nothing compared to a leaden-footed screenplay, co-written by returning director Sean Anders, that disgraces and humiliates everyone on screen, and serves up narrative horrors at every turn.
Brad's genuinely caring and considerate persona is ridiculed by all; even wife Sara (Linda Cardellini) calls him a 'snowflake' when he protests his school-aged children asking a shopping mall Santa for shotguns. And while Sara is portrayed as an uptight, traditional mother (who, at one point, slut-shames Dusty's step-daughter when she turns up with a bare midriff), Dusty's virtually mute girlfriend Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio) is, by contrast, a sexy, shoplifting 'bad mom' – because, of course, women can only be responsible party poopers or delinquent femme fatales.
Most shameful, however, is the casting of convicted domestic abuser Gibson as Dusty's smart-mouthed womanising father, Kurt, who we see repeatedly ditching his family to sleep with random women, and taunting Dusty for letting another man raise his kids. More horrifyingly, he gives his young granddaughter advice on where to aim a gun to kill a man, and instructs his pre-teen grandson that the way to woo girls is to forcibly kiss them and then 'slap them on the ass'; advice that the youngster takes in a climactic sequence that is presented as seasonal cheer but plays like the passing of the sexist baton.
The presence of Gibson in this wilfully on-the-nose role isn't edgy, tongue-in-cheek or remotely funny, it's merely the biggest example of why Daddy's Home 2 is the most appalling and irresponsible film of the year. Avoid.
General release from Wed 22 Nov.