There’s an air of authenticity to InstantFamily as its director Sean Anders and his wife are foster parents in the real world. Is it also a big Hollywood comedy with famous movie stars that works overtime to tug those heartstrings? It is, but the mission is mostly accomplished by credits roll.
Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie Wagner (Rose Byrne) spend their days flipping houses and enjoying their child free upper middle class existence. A trip down the Internet wormhole gets Ellie intrigued in adopting a toddler. Pete gets on board in short order and we witness the steps needed to do so. This include a weeks long course led by two social workers played by Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro. Both are rock solid casting choices. An interesting picture could certainly be made about the saints of that profession.
Pete and Ellie get more than they bargained for when teenage girl Lizzy (Isabela Moner) catches their attention. She has two younger siblings in tow and soon it’s a quintet filling a freshly refurbished abode. And there’s plenty of drama (with much humor mixed in) that cause the Wagners to question their new life direction. This isn’t simply a new project.
This is far from a hard-hitting expose on the foster care system. Yet the screenplay from Anders and John Morris doesn’t shy away from the issues that fill it, including addiction, abandonment, and self-worth. It walks a fine line between being effective or risking becoming too mushy for its own good. By the third act, the sentimentality is still strong with this one. However, I’d be deceptive if I said it hadn’t won me over. Much of that has to do with Moner’s touching performance as the untrusting youth and fierce protector of her siblings.
Anders knows this subject and even while there’s a polished Tinseltown shine covering it, his heart comes through. I left Family appreciative of the time spent with them.
Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne are a couple who bring in a trio of foster kids in next weekend’s comedy InstantFamily. The pic reunites Wahlberg with director Sean Anders, who made both of the successful Daddy’sHome features. Costars include Isabela Moner, Octavia Spencer, and Tig Notaro.
Family was originally scheduled to hit screens in February 2019 before Paramount pushed up the date. It will try to bring in family audiences on a weekend where FantasticBeasts: TheCrimesofGrindelwald opens directly against it and TheGrinch will be in its sophomore frame. That could certainly limit the potential for a robust debut, but the studio will hope that word of mouth carries it to a leggy run over the holidays.
I’ll predict a high teens teens premiere is what we’ll see as the currently unknown buzz will determine the rest of its fate.
InstantFamily opening weekend prediction: $19.4 million
For my FantasticBeasts: TheCrimesofGrindelwald prediction, click here:
Daddy’sHome was a rather unremarkable comedy that managed to elicit a few laughs and coast on the talents of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. It also made a boatload of money and so we enter the territory of the likely unplanned sequel that often feels that way.
The concept, just as in part 1, is pretty simple. The 2015 original pitted softie stepdad Brad (Ferrell) against harder edged real dad Dusty (Wahlberg) vying for the kids attention. Part 2 finds them in a seemingly happy place as Co-Dads. That is until their papas travel to see them for Christmas. And wouldn’t you know it? They exhibit some of the opposite traits that caused Brad and Dusty their problems. John Lithgow is the squishy and overly attentive Brad dad and Mel Gibson is the alpha male and barely attentive Dusty dad. Their presence threatens to upend the recent harmony of their sons. As in the first, there’s an abundance of physical hijinks that follow… most of it directed toward Ferrell. Kids get drunk. They discover girls. Lots of father/son bonding and non bonding happens. The 1980s holiday relief anthem “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” gets more attention than it’s been granted in some time.
Like in the original Home model, the jokes here are mostly predicable and bland with a few genuinely funny parts sprinkled in. Anyone looking for sincere character motivations and real emotion in a Yuletide pic should look elsewhere. In fact, Gibson’s character is kind of an inexplicable monster when you stop and really think about it. It’s not much worth doing so.
Daddy’sHome2 isn’t bad and neither was its predecessor. It is utterly forgettable and a little more so than what preceded it. In my review of #1, I stated that when I think of Ferrell and Wahlberg together – my mind goes to the often inspired TheOtherGuys. I called Daddy’sHome “The Other Movie”. This is the other other one.
Nearly two years after its predecessor was a major holiday hit, Daddy’sHome2 looks to replicate that success next weekend. Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are back, but this time instead of concentrating on their rival dad scenario – it’s their dads joining the mix in the form of John Lithgow and Mel Gibson. Sean Anders returns as director. Other costars include Linda Cardellini and John Cena.
When the original Daddy’s opened on Christmas Day in 2015, it exceeded expectations with a $38 million opening weekend and $150 million eventual gross. Many comedic sequels don’t match the performance of the original. I suspect that will be the case here. For one thing, the Christmas weekend is a huge one but this sequel chose a November release date. ABadMomsChristmas will be in its second weekend for humorous sequel competition, as well as other heavy hitters like the sophomore frame of Thor: Ragnarok and the premiere of MurderontheOrientExpress.
My estimate has part 2 opening with a low to possibly 20s gross. That may actually put it in third behind Thor and Murder.
Daddy’sHome2 opening weekend prediction: $21.8 million
For my Murder on the Orient Express prediction, click here:
Daddy’s Home, the second teaming of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, is perfectly content to coast on its own innocuous brand of humor. This PG-13 laugher from a director and stars often known for R rated material takes its simple premise and often manages to squeeze the most out of it. That’s not saying a whole lot, but if you want a watered down and passable experience this holiday season, you could do worse.
The pic pits step dad vs. real dad as Ferrell’s Brad is a committed yet overly emotional radio executive raising two precocious kids with his wife (Linda Cardellini). He’s making headway with them in the step dad department until biological pop Dusty (Wahlberg) enters the picture. Dusty is a careless muscle bound character (who might be Special Forces) who still cares for his children at least as much as his abs. In fact, there are times when Brad reminds chiseled Dusty to put a shirt on, just like Steve Carell admonished him in Date Night. Soon our two leads are competing for their affection with ponies, playoff tickets to Lakers games (quite an unrealistic prospect currently), and tricked out tree houses with corporate sponsors.
Nothing in Daddy’s Home has much edge to it, even when it seems to be trying. We get supporting players like Thomas Haden Church as Brad’s sleazy boss and comic Hannibal Buress as a handy man who takes Dusty’s side in the dad wars. Both might’ve been more fun in a movie that wanted to push the envelope but that’s not what we have here.
Instead, Daddy’s Home drifts on the personality traits of Ferrell and Wahlberg that we usually see in their comedies. Director Sean Anders and his cowriters have no real fascination with exploring any real issues involved with absentee dads or the step fathers that coddle them. That screenplay frequently has the actors doing things that only make sense to move things along (Cardellini’s emotions in particular often veer wildly from segment to segment). The humor is wrung out of the opposite effect of what these two guys look like without their shirts on. Some of this material is undeniably amusing and often rather bland. The leads elevate it about as high as it can get.
When I think of Ferrell and Wahlberg together on the silver screen, it’ll be 2010’s raucous and quite hilarious The Other Guys that springs to mind. Daddy’s Home is the Other Movie, but it isn’t bad.