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Movie Review

Blended families present challenges for everyone involved. But Brad Whitaker and Dusty Mayron, well, they're making the best of it.

Brad's married to Dusty's ex-wife, Sarah. He's now a doting, devoted stepdad to Megan and Dylan, the two kids she had with Dusty. And Brad and Sarah have added a little one of their own now, too. They're as opposite as they can be, but Brad and Dusty have put their conflict-filled ways (as seen in 2015's Daddy's Home) behind them. Yup, these days, it's all about being the best "co-dads" possible to their children.

In fact, things are so good between Dusty and Brad that they decide to have their families spend Christmas together. (Dusty's since remarried Karen, a novelist with a little girl, Adrianna, from her previous marriage.)

If that sounds like a recipe for relational awkwardness, well, we haven't even gotten started. That's because the visitor list for this blended family celebration isn't yet complete.

You see, Dusty's dad, Kurt, is coming to town. Kurt puts the alpha in alpha male, bragging constantly about his days as a space shuttle pilot and hitting on any pretty woman he sees—always with positive results. And then there's Don Whitaker, a guy so sensitive, so touch-feely, so … huggy! he makes Mr. Rogers look like Rambo.

Kurt doesn't think much of Don and Brad's affirmation-drenched father-son relationship. And he thinks even less of the softening influence that Brad's apparently had on Dusty.

So when they all end up in one house together for Christmas, Kurt's determined to help Dusty see all that mamby-pamby sensitive fatherhood stuff for the silliness that is—once again unleashing the kind alpha male/beta male conflicts that Brad and Dusty thought they'd already conquered.

Positive Elements

Like the first film in this franchise, Daddy's Home 2 comedically explores two different styles of fathering children: the sensitive, affirming style and the rough-and-tumble, masculinity-embracing style. Both are shown to be important, though the story also shows how Dusty, especially, has slowly learned to incorporate both approaches.

On a deeper level, we also see each father-son pair working through significant issues in their own relationships. Dusty initially wants nothing to do with his selfish, narcissistic father, Kurt, because Kurt so consistently focused on himself instead of Dusty when his boy was growing up. Love and affection are foreign things to him, but Kurt slowly sees from Brad and Don's relationship that being a good father means being able to express love.

Don and Brad, on the other hand, have different issues. Don is so committed to being positive that it leads at times to keep significant secrets, refusing to tell the truth about some hard things in his life. When those secrets are exposed, it creates a rift that father and son are forced to work through as they both learn how to be more honest with one another.

In each set of these father-son relationships, the way forward involves forgiveness and trust, two virtues that have been in short supply. And after Kurt manages to manipulatively drive a wedge between Brad and Dusty, they have to relearn how to extend grace to each other, too.

Despite its goofy (and often inappropriate) comedy situations, Daddy's Home 2 ultimately affirms the importance of fatherhood and family. We see that not only in the ways that these grown men relate to each other, but also the way they strive (for the most part) to love their wives and children well, too. Along the way, we also get a particularly poignant scene illustrating how emotionally devastating divorce can be as well.

Spiritual Content

A scene played for humor involves all of the main characters in the film taking roles in a living Nativity, complete with realistic costumes. Someone asks, "Can we have some respect for the Nativity" as a fight breaks out between feuding characters. "O Holy Night" plays in the background.

In a separate scene, we hear the 1980s Christmas relief hit "Do They Know It's Christmas," which includes the lyrics, "But say a prayer/Pray for the other ones." At one point, Kurt (of all characters) says, "I'm a lot of things, but I'm not a heathen."

Sexual Content

Karen has supermodel good looks and she knows it. She wears a revealing top to a school Christmas concert, prompting Sarah to say critically, "Leather pants and sideboob." Little Megan is enthralled by Karen's revealing outfit, and rolls her shirt up and ties it, revealing her midriff during the concert—much to her parents' horror. Elsewhere, Karen's tops almost always reveal cleavage.

When Don and Brad greet each other at the airport, they shockingly kiss on the lips—prompting eye-rolls and snarky comments from Kurt. Later, we see them do that again. Kurt and Dusty eventually kiss the same way. None of the smooches are at all sexual, but they are shown to be weirdly inappropriate.

When Brad first sees Kurt, he tells Dusty, "This is gonna come off weird, Dusty, but he's beautiful."

Kurt brutally mocks Don's sensitivity, joking meanly about Don's manhood … or lack thereof. Kurt, meanwhile, repeatedly hits on women he meets, sometimes kissing them. A flashback to Dusty's youth confirms that Kurt's playboy habits have always been a part of his life—often to the detriment of his relationship with his son. Kurt brags at one point about having hooked up with a flight attendant. And he also tells Dylan, while bowling, to go "grab those balls."

Kurt starts to tell the kids a joke about "two dead hookers" before he's cut off. "No more hooker jokes," Dusty reprimands him.

Both Brad and Dusty offer different counsel to young Dylan on how to approach a girl he likes. Kurt mocks Brad's approach, wondering if he has "flash cards to teach your son how to score." (Kurt thinks Dylan should "slap your spaghetti suckers on her" and "smack her behind," which the boy does do to someone later.)

Brad thinks Dylan is asking about sex, and begins to explain how it works ("Boys have a dingle, girls have a hoo hoo …") before the youngster cuts him off and says he already knows all that. In the end, Dylan kisses his stepsister, Adrianna, and a long line of other girls queues up to kiss him too. (There's a smiling boy in line, too, a wink at homosexuality.) Kids joke about French kissing. We hear that somebody's mother had an affair.

We see grown men in boxers and "tighty whities," the latter much mocked and worn, of course, by Brad.

Violent Content

The film's comedic violence is all played for its slapstick value. As happened in the last film, Brad's once again electrocuted and knocked out. When he's revived, he jokes, "I died again, didn't I?" Another debacle involves a snow blower's unfortunate contact with a string of Christmas lights that pulls both that implement and Brad wildly up the side of the house and onto the roof—then crashingly back down. Brad also gets hit in the face with a tetherball at school, then kicked in the face by a child on a swing, knocking him down.

Don is repeatedly hit in the face with snowballs. He also falls and is left face-first in the snow for hours. When everyone else finds him, a pack of gray wolves is sniffing around and apparently getting ready to eat him.

Kurt is accidentally shot (by little Megan, who's hunting turkeys for the first time) with a rifle. He ends up hospitalized, where he has a wrestling match with Dusty. Megan also ends up shooting and killing two turkeys as well (offscreen).

A child falls off a low roof, face-first into the snow. Sarah slaps Brad.

Crude or Profane Language

God's name is misused about 15 times. We hear the f-word stand in "frickin'" twice. Someone says the letters "F U," then says that it means "forget you." A character in a movie (that everyone is watching together) says "godless motherf—" with the last part cut off. Five uses of "d--n." We hear one to three uses each of the s-word, "h---," "a--hole," "a--," "b--ch" and "b--tards." We hear at least three crude slang references to the male anatomy, one of "t-ts," one of "turd." Someone says, "Lying sacks of—." Name-calling includes "stupid," "moron" and "idiot."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Various characters drink (beer, wine, rum) throughout the film. At one point, young Megan and Adrianna sneak eggnog that's been thoroughly spiked with liquor. When we see them in the next scene, they're clearly very drunk (and their parents are clearly frustrated at the choice they've made).

Other Negative Elements

Kurt mocks his son for not being able to pack all the combined family's bags in an SUV, so Dusty just throws the last one in the bushes. It's Brad's bag, and he returns the "favor" to Dusty later in the film.

Kurt shames and manipulates everyone into cutting down a Christmas tree in the forest. Unfortunately, Brad does the cutting, and it's not a tree at all: It's a cell phone tower. Kurt also says some sexist things to the women in the family, implying that their rightful place is only in the kitchen while the men are out hunting.

Karen shoplifts a small item in a store. Sarah, who's with her, is horrified, but Karen says that she does it just for the thrill of it.

Don embarasses Brad by telling everyone he was a bedwetter as a child. A joke later in the film involves a reference to that subject as well. Brad tells a joke about ducks that has the phrase "butt quack" in the punchline.

Conclusion

Daddy's Home 2 is an odd film in that it's got plenty of PG-13 content paired with some genuinely sweet messages about father-son relationships. Between put-downs, profanity and off-color gags, this movie still manages to say something about how important dads are in the lives of their children—especially their sons.

And the importance of being a good father doesn't stop once those sons grow up, the film suggests. Indeed, both Brad and Dusty have unresolved issues with their quirky, at times deeply selfish fathers that are important for them to resolve. That resolution will require honesty, courage and giving flawed-and fractured-dads a second chance.

Those are really nice messages in a film that often … isn't.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

Comedy

Author

Cast

Will Ferrell as Brad Whitaker; Linda Cardellini as Sarah Mark Wahlberg as Dusty Mayron; Mel Gibson as Kurt Mayron; John Lithgow as Don Whitaker; Scarlett Estevez as Megan; Owen Vaccaro as Dylan; Didi Costine as Adrianna; Alessandra Ambrosio as Karen; John Cena as Roger

Director

Sean Anders ( )

Distributor

Paramount

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

November 10, 2017

On Video

February 20, 2018

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Adam R. Holz

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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