As This is Spinal Tap's Artie Fufkin can attest to, timing is everything, and whoever decided to steer this Ferrell and Wahlberg vehicle into festive cinemas looks like they knew they'd be on to a good thing as a Star Wars alternative at the US box office. But, really, a third viewing of The Force Awakens would still prove more entertaining than this chalk-and-cheese comedy. It's not strong enough to deserve its post-Christmas slot and you'd want to be truly stir crazy to stir out and buy a ticket - a nothing-else-happening week around February was Daddy's rightful home.
Ferrell plays Brad, one of life's gentle giants who hit the jackpot when the penny dropped and wife Sarah (Cardellini) realised she needed more in terms of stability for her two kids than sparks for herself. Brad can't believe his luck - we can't either - and after nine months of marriage it looks like the new family unit is really starting to gel.
(Re) enter Dusty (Wahlberg), Sarah's first husband. Dusty is an alpha male who has decided he wants more of a role in his kids' life and has returned from whatever war-zone he makes a living in to make up for lost time. Game on - Brad finds that everything Dusty touches turns to gold while his own gormless gene lessens his credentials as husband and father material by the hour. Question is, does Brad have it in him to get down and dirty to win?
There are flashes of madcap magic - Christmas in April during the battle for one-upmanship, a randomer moving in and making himself at home, Bobby Cannavale as a crude consultant - but Daddy's Home is too bitty and lacks the free-wheeling feel-good nature of the best comedies. As 2010's The Other Guys showed, Ferrell and Wahlberg make a good team but they need to be choosier about their material and find a script that is worth their weight in gold. Indeed, there's the suspicion here that Daddy's Home would have had more to offer if casting convention had been turned on its head, with Ferrell playing the too-cool-for-school chancer and Wahlberg donning the tank-top.
We caught up with Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell at the Irish premiere of Daddy's Home, check it out by clicking on the video link.