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Daddy’s Home

15 Jan

Daddy’s Home – directed by Sean Anders. Low Comedy. 85 minutes Color 2015.

★★★

The Story: The real father of two children returns to the household and undermines the effort of their stepfather to get them to like him.

~

Something is wrong here. It lies in the playing of Will Ferrell who plays a fatuous oaf as though he were a fatuous oaf and not a human being trying in the wrong way to win the affection of his stepchildren. I suppose this is done so as not to frighten the audience.

It seems to work for them. They laughed at everything, as though they had gone through basic training to learn how. I have never seen Will Ferrell before, but they have their laugh cards installed by now and know how to behave. I laughed at nothing.

There is in the writing scarcely a single scene that is humanly credible. The script is overwritten – in the way modern screen comedy is overwritten, which is that it does not content itself with one stunning situation; instead it seeks to pile one on top of another. These modern screen comedies are too much cotton candy. They sicken before Coney Island is halfway over.

I went to see it because Mark Wahlberg was in it, and he is an actor I enjoy. And I did enjoy him. He never exaggerates. Never pushes. Never fakes. He plays the intruding real father.

I suppose the story is a take on Tennyson’s Enoch Arden, which produced My Favorite Wife with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, a film which had its own problems, their chief one being that all the characters were non-committal but that the film also was.

In Daddy’s Home, you know perfectly well what will determine the outcome, what will be said, and who will say it. That’s all right. There’s a certain satisfaction in things turning out according to plan. But this satisfaction is scorched at birth by hyperbole; it does not need a motorcycle to be driven up the stairs of a suburban home and fly out the window and land on a station wagon. It would work if in a Buster Kean movie, because you would see Buster Keaton doing the whole stunt. With Keaton it would the delicatest of ballets; here it is gross.

But don’t listen to me: the theatre was packed and they’re still sitting there laughing.

 

 

 
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