"Christian Love Overcomes Family Divisions"
What You Need To Know:
DADDY’S HOME 2 could be more cohesive and take more advantage of its story. It seems to jump from incident to incident. That said, some of the situations are really funny. Also, the third act builds to a nice comical crescendo. Even better, the plot problems are resolved by overt acts of love inspired by the Christmas season. There are even positive references to the Nativity and the birth of Jesus. However, DADDY’S HOME 2 contains some crude language, plenty of light profanities and other bad behavior. So, caution is advised for older children.
DADDY’S HOME 2 finds family man Brad and Dusty, the father of Brad’s two stepchildren, having to cope with Dusty’s macho father who wants to create friction between the two best buddies during the Christmas holiday. DADDY’S HOME 2 has some funny and heartwarming moments promoting the Christmas spirit, the birth of Jesus, family togetherness, and love, but there’s some crude language, light profanities and bad behavior that warrant caution for older children.
The movie opens with Dusty having gotten married to a woman with a daughter of her own from a previous marriage. Also, Brad and Sara, Dusty’s ex-wife, have a new child of their own, Griffy.
Dusty and Brad are upset when they learn that Dusty’s daughter, Megan (Brad’s stepdaughter), is tired of having two separate Christmas celebrations. So, the families decide to celebrate Christmas together at one of their homes.
Brad and Dusty’s plan is complicated when Dusty’s macho father, Kurt, a former astronaut and still a ladies man, suddenly shows up for Christmas. After meeting the overly sensitive Brad, Kurt thinks Brad is turning Dusty into a weakling. So, he secretly plans to sabotage their friendship at a large resort cabin Kurt manages to reserve for both Brad and Dusty’s families.
Meanwhile, Brad’s own ultra-affectionate and emotional dad, Don, shows up to celebrate Christmas with Brad’s family, but without Brad’s mother. Clearly, Don is harboring some sort of secret of his own.
DADDY’S HOME 2 sometimes seems to lack comic cohesion to take full advantage of the comic possibilities in the story. It jumps from incident to incident without always building great comic momentum. For example, in the classic comedy structure of the best silent comedies and the best “screwball” comedies of Hollywood’s Golden Age, the jokes and comedy build upon themselves until they reach a comical climax and crescendo in the narrative.
That said, however, some of the comical situations do build nicely upon themselves. For example, there’s a funny sequence where Kurt tries to interest Dusty’s son, Dylan, into hunting, but it turns out Dusty’s daughter, Megan, is more interested. So, Dusty, Brad, Brad’s dad, and Megan’s mother, Sara (who’s now Brad’s wife), all go with Kurt and Megan to hunt wild turkeys. Also, the first and second acts eventually do build to a funny climactic third act where the blended family’s plans to celebrate Christmas together come unglued. How that plot problem resolves itself happily is one of the things that makes DADDY’S HOME 2 worth seeing.
As Frank McConnell writes in his groundbreaking book on movies and literature, STORYTELLING AND MYTHMAKING, the “‘natural’ order of society disintegrates into a carnival atmosphere where social conventions are suspended in a limbo world between complete dissolution and a hoped-for rebirth.” This is sort of what happens in DADDY’S HOME 2. The blended family’s plans for celebrating Christmas together disintegrates, partly because of the machinations of Dusty’s father, Kurt, but also partly because there are unresolved issues between Brad and Dusty, between Dusty and his father, and between Dusty and his own stepdaughter, Adrianna, who turns out to be a troublemaker like her grandfather. Here, it’s important to note that the plot problem within this extended family, as evidenced by all these family conflicts, is explicitly resolved by overt acts of love. In effect, characters choose to forgive other characters and express their love for one another. The thing that inspires them to do this is what the movie calls “the Christmas Spirit.”
Happily, the movie has a couple scenes with a live Nativity display in the center of the resort where the family decides to spend its Christmas together. So, the movie’s references to “the Christmas Spirit” isn’t devoid of religious significance. In fact, when an argument breaks out between Brad and Dusty at the family’s own participation in the live Nativity display, Brad realizes at the end that he forgot to pick up his infant son, Griffy, who’s playing the baby Jesus in the Nativity display. There’s a subtle hint in this moment from the movie, which seems to say, “During Christmas, don’t forget the baby Jesus!”
Despite all these positives, DADDY’S HOME 2 contains some crude language, plenty of light profanities (mostly of the “Oh my God” variety) and other bad behavior. For example, Dusty’s father starts to tell a joke about “too hookers,” but is quickly shushed by Brad, Dusty and Brad’s father. Also, one problem Dusty has with his father is that his father always slipped away during one of Dusty’s school functions with another woman, often a married woman. During a visit to an improv comedy club, Dusty is upset when his father meets a woman at the bar and doesn’t return until the next morning. Furthermore, at one point, Adrianna encourages Megan to drink some of their parents’ rum-laced eggnog, and both girls later turn up tipsy slurring their words. How Brad and Dusty handle that situation (especially Adrianna’s disobedience) becomes part of the movie’s positive resolution of all the conflicts in this extended blended family.
Overall, the objectionable content in DADDY’S HOME 2 warrants a caution for older children. Also, increasing the movie’s positive references to Jesus, the real reason for the Christmas season, could have helped. As always, please consult the CONTENT section for this movie before you decide whether to see DADDY’S HOME 2.