“This Year It’s No More Back And Forth At Christmas. It’s A Together Christmas..!”
With 2015’s Daddy’s Home being one of the few cinematic releases which managed to simply pass me by without me having the chance, time or perhaps the need to catch up and review it, the release of it’s inevitable sequel after the comedy hit became Will Ferrell’s highest grossing live action film to date brings with it a sense of heavy duty dread, particularly when reminiscing the more contemporary Ferrell releases such as The House and Zoolander 2, and whilst it requires quite an extensive amount in the American comedy genre to actually impress me, who would have thought that a Christmas themed sequel to a film which never really was asking for a continuation in the first place was actually somewhat quite good fun? With Mel Gibson and John Lithgow added to the cast as the fathers of Mark Wahlberg’s Dusty and Ferrell’s Brad respectively, Daddy’s Home 2 is a surprisingly sharp and witty sequel which although suffers from a overly formulaic plot, some interesting narrative swings and a completely saccharin sweet ending which nearly resulted in me chucking up into the nearest popcorn box, is throwaway comedy trash of the cheesiest order which just happens to be quite enjoyable.
With a script which ironically mirrors the Bad Moms Christmas approach by utilising the added input of an older generation to the plot and therefore the inclusion of much more acting talent, the inclusion of both Gibson and Lithgow does strangely work, with the latter using all his musky, outdated charm and guile to interfere with the family arrangements, and the latter’s penchant for cringe-laden conversations and weirdly intimate family relations managing to balance the widely cliched characterisation of pretty much everyone from child to elder. With rib-tickling set pieces managing to win me over from the start and Wahlberg being undeniably the star of the show, Daddy’s Home 2 does falter in an over-reliance on weak slapstick more times than necessary, whilst the inclusion of a strangely ill-judged gun scene is somewhat muddled in its’ execution, particularly when contemplating recent events in the US. Daddy’s Home 2 isn’t perfect, but nobody heading in was expecting It’s A Wonderful Life, and whilst some may feel the need to slate it’s cocksure and rather unsteady cinematic existence, it really isn’t worth getting angry about, and with that particular mindset in check, Ferrell’s latest is just plain dumb fun.
Overall Score: 6/10
“We’re Gonna Put The Ass Back In Christmas..!”
Although American based comedies tend more than most to fall on the side of face-palm induced awfulness, with the likes of The House, CHiPs and the horror of Table 19 from this year alone proving such a genre is rife with utter, utter trash, last year’s Bad Moms was a release of which I personally was pleasantly surprised by, a movie which although suffered from a dwindling lack of originality, featured enough charming characters and sharp one-liners to pass off as one of the better comedies to come from the US of A, particularly in the past few years or so. Whilst the success of the original by no means meant that a sequel was warranted, as per the norm of every single reasonably well received movie in Hollywood nowadays, here we are with A Bad Moms Christmas, a movie which takes the formula of its’ predecessor and mixes in the saccharin filled notion of everyone’s favourite holiday, a seasonal delight which either leads to cinematic classics such as It’s A Wonderful Life or vomit-inducing crap such as Jack Frost. Eugh. Whilst it is no surprise that A Bad Moms Christmas is nowhere near the passable fun of its’ predecessor, with the guilty pleasure appeal of the first movie somewhat absent a second time around, there is still enough smart gags and overripe new characters to allow the sequel to warrant its’ existence. Sort of.
With Christmas around the corner and the unexpected arrival of their respective parents on the cards, the leading trio of the original return once again to “take back Christmas” in a manner which begins by bearing huge similarities to its’ predecessor with excess drinking, low-level criminality and drunk dancing with Santa, one which subsequently flows into a Meet the Parents type comedy which focuses on each of our leading ladies’ troublesome mother figures. With Mila Kunis once again having enough charming eloquence to take control of the main bulk of the film and Kathryn Hahn’s Carla always guaranteed to make the most cynical of audiences giggle in places, A Bad Moms Christmas undeniably belongs to the domineering presence of Christine Baranski as Ruth Mitchell, a maternal devil figure who is both bitchy and comedic in equal measure with Baranski’s performance being one of the main reasons why the sequel does indeed work on some level. With the gross factor turned up however and the annoying overuse of obscenity rife from beginning to end, A Bad Moms Christmas is not exactly the sequel to carry on the successes of the first but for ninety odd minutes, it passes the time rather harmlessly.
Overall Score: 5/10
“Hey Santa! Wanna Party…?”
So here it is, Merry Christmas! Everybody’s having fun, look to the future now… Okay, time to stop. The annual season of mass consumerism, wasted mince pies and cheesy red jumpers is upon us and where Christmas follows, so does certain inevitabilities; last ditch shopping, the Doctor Who special and of course, the release of cheesy Christmas movies. Picking up the slack this year is Office Christmas Party, a seasonal comedy which adheres to the blueprint of many before it by squeezing as many famous faces as possible into the mix in the hope that the glowing smile of Jennifer Aniston can take the audience’s attention away from the dire script holding it together. Although not entirely terrible in the backlog of awful comedies, Office Christmas Party is pretty much a 90 minute booze-fest, one which not only has the cringey themes of sexism, toilet humour and general awfulness of party culture films such as Project X and The Hangover, but also adds cheesy, wooden narratives that unfortunately are created to collide with the seasonal nature of the film. Did the film get me ready for Christmas though? No. No. No.
With these types of movies it is strikingly obvious that deep thought and some sort of underlying themes are completely absent, with the main goal of course being that sweet sound of a cash register, and whilst Office Christmas Party isn’t the first movie to abide by these rules, and undoubtedly won’t be the last, you could be forgiven for thinking it might be a complete stinker. The harsh truth however is that Office Christmas Party isn’t even that, it’s just passable fluff, fluff which will bound to suit a certain breed of audience but for me, does nothing at all except wishing I was watching It’s A Wonderful Life instead. After his rather cracking performance in The Gift, it’s a real shame to see Jason Bateman return to easy ground whilst Kate McKinnon attempts to continue her reputation as the kooky linchpin of the movie after her performance in the recent Ghostbusters remake. If this is the type of movie Christmas will continue to offer, I might just hibernate through next years’ annual festivities but at the same time, at least we have Star Wars to look forward to.