Brad (Will Ferrell) is a kindhearted radio executive who wants to be the best possible stepfather to his wife Sara’s (Linda Cardellini) two children Megan and Dylan (Scarlett Estevez and Owen Vaccaro). When her freewheeling ex-husband Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) breezes back into town, Brad’s feeling of insecurity quickly develops into an inferiority complex. As Dusty demonstrates his flair for athletics, home repair and bad-boy charisma, Brad finds himself in a no-holds-barred battle to one-up his rival and win the approval of his family.
This was definitely worth the wait. I had the chance to see this film two weeks ago since I won advanced tickets in a contest but did not have the chance to go so I was looking forward to this one. After finally having seen it, it was definitely not what I expected. That’s not exactly a bad thing, however, as I found it to be not as blatantly stupid as I thought. The story for this film is pretty simple and involves Brad (Ferrell), a well-intentioned, wimpy man who has always wanted a family of his own and thus tries, sometimes too hard, to have his children, Megan and Dylan (Estevez and Vaccaro) like him and keep them and his wife Sara (Cardellini) together. When Sara’s ex-husband and Brad’s children’s biological father Dusty (Wahlberg) comes back to town, Brad starts to feel inadequate. With Dusty trying to get his family back and Brad trying to keep it, the two begin to compete against each other in order to win the approval of their families. So the film is pretty much Ferrell’s character Brad and Wahlberg’s character Dusty trying to outdo each other and being a comedy, each of them sometimes fail. I found a lot of things in this film very funny but I never found anything to be overly stupid. Sure there are a lot of stupid comedies out there but I don’t tend to find them funny because I can see them for what they are. How the film achieves this is that Ferrell is the straight man here but not in the traditional sense as he manages to reign himself in here as he has a very serious character. I liked him more here as he sometimes tends to lose as he gets carried away with the edge in which some of his past characters have had. He is so over-the-top with his devotion to his family, we can’t help but to root for him throughout his antics. What was smart about this is that Wahlberg’s character had some humanity to him also so we, as viewers, could understand where he was coming from as well so we could root for him too. The comedy comes from Brad doing things that are unlike Brad, as was established well in the beginning of the film, and the contrast between Brad and the more adventurous Dusty. What helps is the chemistry between Ferrell and Wahlberg, as in their previous outing, The Other Guys, Wahlberg is self-aware here and he lets Ferrell take control. Seeing that this is a family-centered film, there are some cliche/predictable plot elements but I didn’t mind. Overall, this was a surprisingly smart comedy led by a great performance from Will Ferrell and it’s PG/PG-13 rating makes it accessible.