Daddy’s Home parents guide

Daddy’s Home Parent Review

The movie consists primarily of escalating situations of one-upmanship where women and children are the sought-for trophies. The real danger of situations is ignored and the comedy is often crass.

Overall C-

A stepdad (Will Ferrel) finds it tough trying to fill the shoes of the man who went before -- especially when that former father (Mark Wahlberg) re-enters the lives of his ex-wife (Linda Cardellini) and children, and challenges him for the position of head of the house.

Violence C+
Sexual Content C-
Profanity C-
Substance Use C

Daddy’s Home is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, crude and suggestive content, and for language.

Movie Review

Viewing Daddy’s Home is akin to being a spectator at a cockfight. In the ancient and usually illegal practice, two roosters are put in the same pen where a battle-to-the-death ensues, thanks to the birds’ instinctive male dominance behavior. In the movie, two men – vying for the affections of the same mother and children, engage in the most ridiculous stunts, thanks (I can only assume) to behavior driven by testosterone. Neither sport is particularly pleasant to watch.

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All the same, the screenwriters here are game to pit softhearted, dependable and eager-to-please Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell), against the street-tough, reckless and self-centered Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberger). Despite Sara’s (Linda Cardellini) assurance that she prefers Brad’s stable support to Dusty’s passionate unpredictability, the new husband and the children (Owen Vaccaro and Scarlett Estevez) are still blown away by the ex-husband’s “cool factor”. And that is when jealousy (and stupidity) rears its ugly head.

The rest of the film consists of escalating situations of one-upmanship that result in damage to body, property and ego. The naïve and insecure Brad takes the worst of the beatings, however Dusty’s impatience with fatherly responsibilities proves he too has a few chinks in his manly armor. These competitions are always played for laughs, and ignore the real danger of the situations. Consequently, some audience members may not find the depictions particularly funny – such as the scene where a character’s heart stops after he is accidentally electrocuted and help is “humorlessly” delayed.

As well, comedy is derived through sexual innuendo and references. A visit to a fertility clinic is especially abundant in crass comments as a very unprofessional doctor examines male body parts and suggests collecting medical samples. (Of course, somebody gets caught with his pants down…)

This tediousness continues with poor advice about handling grade school bullies. Language includes name-calling, mild and moderate profanities, as well as terms of deity. Some characters tell inappropriate stories. And a frustrated character resorts to bribes and a drunken temper tantrum.

While I feel sorry for the roosters thrown into the cockpit for the sake of amusement, I have no such sympathy for the characters in this movie that doesn’t even provide much entertainment. All I’m left with is wondering what was this film’s intended audience? Is it macho men that like to see each other strut their stuff? (You’ve gotta admit, it is Brad and the other male characters in this script that admire Dusty most.) Is it henpecked men cheering on the timid male? (After all, it’s Brad’s passive philosophy that eventually pulls a happy ending out of this dysfunctional tale.) It certainly can’t be children—their only role is to be the rope in this tug-of-war. And I’m pretty sure this won’t appeal to my gender either. Despite centuries of history and literature trying to convince females otherwise, most of us, like Sara depicted here, are more embarrassed than flattered by this kind of attention. Perhaps it is also time to outlaw the antiquated idea of using people (in this case, woman and children) as trophies.

Directed by Sean Anders, John Morris. Starring Linda Cardellini, Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell . Running time: 96 minutes. Theatrical release December 25, 2015. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Daddy’s Home here.

Daddy’s Home Parents Guide

Brad reads a lot of self-help books to try to become the perfect stepfather. How much help does he get from this advice? Is it possible for a book to teach you everything you need to know about the real world? Is it possible to be perfect at anything?

How does Dusty manipulate Brad? Why does the stepfather fall for his lies? Why won’t Brad stick up for himself? Where does he feel his lack of confidence comes from? When Brad and Dusty later try to help their young son stand up to bullies at school, how do their very different approaches conflict with each other? What advice would you give to someone dealing with bullies?

In the movie, Dusty’s machismo wins over many friends. Still, Sara claims she would rather have a kind and dependable man in her life. If you are a man, what things do you think would impress a woman? If you’re a woman, what do you look for in a man? What type of qualities do you think are the most important for raising children?