I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Connor Bynum // Film Critic
DADDY’S HOME (2015)
There was a time when Will Ferrell was a comedy juggernaut. His eccentric humor and deadpanned delivery in films such as ANCHORMAN was the stuff of legend back in the 2000s. Now it seems he has settled into the “nice family man with a penchant for getting into wacky shenanigans” routine, and to say it has gotten stale would be putting it delicately.
The same can be said for DADDY’S HOME (and its slightly better sequel — which are getting the 4K treatment for home release). But can an extra dose of visual clarity salvage this mess of a film? The answer is no. No, it cannot.
Movie Grade: D
Everything about this film just feels lazy. What starts out as a somewhat interesting premise quickly turns into formulaic and repetitive tedium. Will Ferrell plays Brad, the kind-hearted step-dad to the two kids of his wife Sara (a clearly underused Linda Cardellini). The little tykes are cute enough, but are rarely able to pull off the sort of delivery outside of what you’d find in a school play. Brad is the polar opposite of the stereotypical step-parent and pours his heart and soul into the lives of these two kids in hopes that they’ll eventually accept him as part of the family. This all comes crashing down when their irresistibly cool real dad, Dusty (a phoned in performance by Mark Wahlberg) arrives to win back the hearts of his family. What follows is a series of ill-conceived hijinks all wrapped up by an admittedly heartfelt message for broken families.
It pains me to say it, but with such a shameless use of product placement for things such as Angie’s List, FROZEN and Cinnamon Toast Crunch in place of actual jokes, I frequently felt as though I was watching an Adam Sandler film. Though, the film is not without a few redeemable qualities. Two supporting characters played by Hannibal Buress and Thomas Haden Church are consistently funny, with Buress playing a strangely endearing unwanted house guest and Church mixing things up as Brad’s endlessly crass boss. These characters make the film slightly more watchable and do what they can to give the audience a few laughs.
Video/Audio Grade: B-
For what it’s worth, the work done to upscale the film to 4K is admirable. Skin textures are on point and finer details on clothing and set decoration are pleasant to look at. But this is hardly a visually intensive movie. For what action that is there, the added resolution cannot save these poorly conceived set pieces. Brad chaotically wrangling a motorcycle that crashes in and out of his home is painfully cheap. Additionally, the godawful post-work to put Wahlberg’s face onto his skateboarding stunt double is simply embarrassing. In fact, the jump to 4K actually damages the fidelity of these sequences.
The use of HDR/Dolby Vision often tends to overcompensate in its color saturation levels. It isn’t a deal breaker, but it feels as though a heavy amount of color grading was added in post-production and the HDR on the disc on exacerbates an already saturated pallet.
The DTS: X audio track is a competent mix that does what it has to do, but won’t really thrill audiophiles. The dialogue comes in clear and music never feels too loud. Like the film, the audio mostly plays it safe.
Extras Grade: C
There are no extra features on the 4K disc and all features from the previous Blu-ray release can be found on the included Blu-ray disc. These extras can best be described as mildly interesting. Everybody involved honestly looks bored in their interviews and you’ll likely feel the same way.
- The Making of Daddy’s Home (1080p, 11:54): A look at the movie’s origins, story details and themes, early production details, casting, characters, Sean Anders’ work on the set, and more.
- Daddy-Off (1080p, 6:44): A closer look at how the main characters engage in conflict.
- Daddy-Daughter Dance (1080p, 5:11): A quick run-through of making a key scene near movie’s end and the themes that culminate in it.
- Halftime Stunt (1080p, 8:55): A look at the basketball sequence, both the behind-the-scenes making-of and its role in the larger story.
- Tony Hawk: Skater Double (1080p, 4:02): A couple of legendary skaters suit up to stand-in for the stars.
- Child’s Play (1080p, 5:00): A closer look at the kids in the movie and what its like when they’re on the set.
- Hannibal Buress: The Perfect Houseguest (1080p, 5:36): A fun few minutes with Hannibal Buress and a look at his work in the film.
- Blooper — Jeet Kune Do (1080p, 2:05): The actors can’t contain their laughter during the shoot.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (1080p): Car Ride Q&A (2:38), Have Fun (1:15), Pre-Dance (1:26), Motorcycle Brad (1:39), and Special Ops (1:06).
Final Grade: C+
DADDY’S HOME is a joyless and forgettable romp with a handful of good ideas. Clocking in at just 95 minutes, it completely overstays its welcome. The 4K upscaling is serviceable, but the HDR could have toned it down a bit. If you’re looking for an occasionally humorous and mostly harmless family comedy to spruce up your UHD collection, this may do the trick.