Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell, John Lithgow, Mel Gibson, Linda Cardellini, John Cena, Alessandra Ambrosio
Director: Sean Anders
Brad (Ferrell) is married to Dusty’s (Wahlberg) ex-wife, and is stepdad to his kids. While this was the cause of great tension in the first film, they’re now not only co-parenting, but are also really good friends. That is until they decide to hold a joint Christmas that is crashed by their own fathers, and old tensions rise to the surface. Brad’s father (Lithgow) is a loving father but is keeping a big secret from his sensitive son, while Dusty’s Dad (Gibson) is a terrible father who wants to create as much drama as he can.
Comedy sequels are a tough sell, and I know a lot of people feel that Ferrell is either a love/hate star. So yes, if you’re not a Ferrell fan, this isn’t for you. And yet… for those of you who love Elf (which is everyone, right?) then here is a new Christmas comedy with the same kind of playful heart and sticky sweetness from the same star. It also made me think a little of that other Christmas classic National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, not because it’s necessarily going to become a seminal seasonal classic, but because it has the same kind of humour and charm.
The chemistry between Wahlberg and Ferrell is the core of this film, and it’s one that’s been mined before to good humorous effect. I like these two. You can feel the warmth when they’re getting along or the fire when they’re at war, but either way, there’s something about them that clicks. It just works. Added to that is the tensions from two old hands, Gibson and Lithgow, there’s plenty of scope for situations to spiral. And this time around, they have also used the side characters to better effect, including the children and wives, plus John Cena, whose cameo from the first film is expanded upon.
On the whole, there’s plenty of the same kind of humour as the first, based around children, family, home, and relationships, as well as slapstick humour, but with the added layer of it being Christmas, the whole thing starts off using the sweetness of that time of year, and then pouring on the sugar and laughs to make it more. It makes fun of itself and it’s stars constantly, which I really liked. I like the first film, I like Wahlberg and Ferrell, and I expected to like this film a bit, but was surprised to find that I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
See It If: It’s PG13, but I’d call this a film to watch with your family or loved ones for Christmas. It’s cozy and sweet, OTT and a laugh, even if it might not make your permanent seasonal movie list.