Daddy's Home 2 exceeded all expectations this weekend, pulling in $30 million at the box office, according to The Hollywood Reporter. This gives it the second best opening weekend of a comedy so far this year, right behind Girls' Trip, which made $31.7 million.
Daddy's Home 2 saw both Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg reprise their roles as the dual patriarchs of a quirky family, with the addition of John Lithgow in the role of Ferrell's father, and Mel Gibson as Wahlberg's.
Daddy's Home 2 is a sequel to last year's story of an estranged father — Wahlberg — at odds with his ex-wife's new husband — Ferrell. This time around, Lithgow and Gibson join the cast as grandfathers visiting for the holidays.
Although Wahlberg and Ferrell's characters had time to settle their differences and become begrudging allies, if not friends, in the first movie, their plans for a successful holiday are no match for the combined chaotic influence of their respective dads. This PG-13 comedy is full of slapstick gags and familiar family hijinx.
The original Daddy's Home made $38 million in its opening weekend, though it had the advantage of opening at Christmastime, while this one actually takes place during the holiday season. Still, the addition of Lithgow and Gibson as extensions of their sons' goofy stereotypes drew families and comedy fans out this weekend, though the film's staying power remains to be seen.
The reviews among audiences hover in the 6/10 - 7/10 range on sites like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb, while critics are not being as kind. Currenly, Daddy's Home 2 holds a 16 percent among critics on the Tomatometer, and is falling.
The story has been called "formulaic," with jokes and sight-gags that are predictable, especially for those that have seen the original. There's also a rumbling amongst thoughtful viewers about this particular commentary on masculinity in today's social climate.
Particularly troubling is the movie's portrayal of consent. A central sub-plot of the story is Dylan (Owen Vaccaro)'s first big crush. For the sake of a joke, Brad (Ferrell) counsels Dylan to approach her meekly, while Dusty (Wahlberg) scrambles to "save" his son from the "friend-zone."
To top it off, Kurt (Gibson) advises his grandson to be aggressive, grab a kiss, and slap his crush on the ass when he's done. While that kind of joke might go unnoticed more often than not, it stands out in November of 2017 as thoughtless, insensitive, and dangerous.
Beyond the moderate success at the box office, the movie also represents Mel Gibson's first appearance in a major studio production in fifteen years. The actor was largely shunned from the entertainment industry after a series of meltdowns and racist diatribes. Although he's maintained a steady workload in independent films and genre movies, many see this as a sort of homecoming for the sixty-one-year-old actor, for better or for worse.
Based on the timing and the content, it's clear that the studio and the filmmakers were hoping Daddy's Home 2 would stay in theaters through the holiday season. Only time will tell, though the opening weekend is a promising start.