Review – Who’s Your Daddy? (“Daddy’s Home”)

I’ll come right out and say it… Will Ferrell is the new Chevy Chase. Watch this hilarious movie and tell me I’m wrong with his dead-pan delivery, his impeccable comedic timing, and his propensity for getting into the weirdest situations ever.
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This time around Ferrell plays Brad Whitaker, step-father to two adorable little kids (Scarlett Estevez and Owen Vaccaro). Their mother, Sara (Linda Cardellini) loves Brad, but the kids are kinda cold to the new pops. After all, Brad is a touchy-feely, new-agey, sweater wearing easy-going kinda guy who likes to “engage in dialogue” to resolve any problems. Jack Handy would have loved this guy! Brad works at The Panda, a smooth jazz radio station with his wacky boss, Leo (Thomas Hayden Church), who delights in regaling Brad the most insane backstories of his past love life.

But just as the kids are finally warming up to Brad, who flies into town but their real dad, Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberg), in all his bad-boy, ripped-abs, Indian-motorcycle riding persona. Naturally, the kids go wild for ‘daddy’, but Sara is convinced it’s all a smokescreen. Brad, however, is all restraint and understanding… that is until Dusty ingratiates himself into the family against his wishes. Chaos ensues as Dusty and Brad square off in an all-out war of one-upsmanship to appease not only the kids, but to win the love of Sara.

There’s disaster with Brad riding the motorcycle and a skateboard, Dusty being outclassed with Brad’s outgoing people skills, a hysterical trip to a fertility clinic to meet Dr. Francisco (Bobby Cannavale), a disastrous night out to see the L.A. Lakers, Dusty building an incredible tree-house and skateboard ramp, and a handyman named Griff (Hannibal Buress) who stays to become a permanent house guest. Pretty soon Brad loses it and decides to fight back using Dusty’s dirty tactics, but all to horrible consequences.

But in the end, wouldn’t ya know it, everything comes together with Brad and Dusty reconciling, Sara forgiving the two lunkheads for being idiots, and a delicious callback scene that ties everything up for a very funny ending. You can the thank the writers Brian Burns, Sean Anders, and John Morris for taking such a loopy and done-to-death plot and spinning it with hilarity and freshness. Plus giving Sara such a strong fleshed-out role not seen in other guy-related comedies. Bravo!

Director Sean Anders, whose hit ‘n’ miss film career (Dumb and Dumber To, Horrible Bosses 2) does an admirable job here with Ferrell and Wahlberg, who struck gold together in The Other Guys. Anders knows how to set-up a scene and then let it play out with the actors doing their comedic shtick. Several shots are pure magic in creating comedy just by where the camera is placed. Just overlook the glaring plot holes, bad SPFX, and shameless product placements of Cinnabon, Sony, Indian, and the Ford Flex.

I have to mention the fantastic supporting cast with Church as the world’s nuttiest boss giving LOL monologues, Cannavale as an overly-friendly doctor (one of the funniest scenes ever), Cardellini (besides being gorgeous) showing strength going toe-to-toe with the big boys, and Buress as the guest-that-wouldn’t-leave. And check out the dog named Tumor. Scary funny!   

 

 Table For Five (1983)
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Okay, while it’s not a comedy, this superbly acted drama has two fathers vying for their children’s affections, one of whom has been away from their lives for while. Better break out the tissues, ’cause this one’s gonna break your heart.
 
We are introduced to J.P. Tannen (Jon Voight), a former professional golfer who lives in sunny California. He is estranged from his three children who all live in NYC with their mother Kathleen (Millie Perkins) and attorney step-father, Mitchell (Richard Crenna). Gripped with a bout of remorse, Tannen decides to re-enter his kids lives and (WTH?) take them on a grand Mediterranean luxury cruise. I guess Disney World was booked up?
 
Anyway, Kathleen wants her to believe her ex is a changed man, but she’s not convinced, while Mitchell sees this as a cheap-shot and a sneaky way to ingratiate his way back into the family after being absent for so long. Tannen, meanwhile, has missed alot. Youngest son Truman-Paul (Robby Kiger) has a learning disability and night terrors, adopted Vietnamese teen son Trung (Son Hoang Bui) is a punk thief, and youngster Tilde (Roxana Zal) tries to act as parent to the two.
 

Needless to say, the trip is a disaster. As Tanner starts to feel he can’t cope being a father, he receives terrible news that Kathleen died in a in a car accident. He holds off telling the kids for as long as he can, but once he does, they are devastated and fall to pieces. When Mitchell shows up during the trip and demands that he’s gonna take full custody of “his” children, Tannen suddenly realizes what he’s got to lose and vows to keep them at any cost.

A heart-breaking screenplay by David Seltzer, this beautifully shot movie (on location in Egypt, Athens, Rome, etc) doesn’t steer clear of any family issues of fathers and their estranged children. It’s cringe-worthy in it’s realism; the acting is that good, especially young Zal who delivers an emotional scene about her brother’s dreams that’ll tear your heart out.

Directed by Robert Lieberman, whose forte was mostly TV shows, this movie was his crown jewel. A powerful, sensitive, and realistic portrayal of two dads who both love their kids and want what’s best for them, even if it means resorting to some pretty nasty threats to achieve it. Check out a brief cameo by a very young Kevin Costner as a newlywed!
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