The first Daddy’s Home a couple years ago was all about two competing views of masculinity. On the one hand, Brad (Will Ferrell) represented a comedically-exaggerated version of the man who was in touch with his feelings. That’s part of what attracted Sara (Linda Cardellini) to him after she divorced the rugged but irresponsible Dusty (Mark Wahlberg). While Dusty and Brad clashed at first, eventually they figured out how to be part of the same family.
With Daddy’s Home 2, they’re doing alright. But the tenuous peace that exists in the extended unit is tested during the holidays with the arrival of Brad’s father (John Lithgow) and Dusty’s (Mel Gibson) as well as the presence of Roger (John Cena), the ex-husband of the woman Dusty has now married. Those new influences are going to reignite old conflicts but probably a lot of learning along the way.
The first poster and Dusty and Brad sitting on the couch with their respective dads behind them, Dustry and his dad looking all macho and somewhat amused and dismayed at the obvious display of affection being engaged in by Brad and his father. “More daddies. More problems.” is the copy at the top that’s kind of terrible.
The second poster has both sets of fathers and sons wrapped up together in a string of Christmas lights, the small kids running around them like they’ve done it.
The final theatrical poster uses the same picture of Brad, Dusty and their fathers on and around the couch but pulls the camera back a bit to show the kids arrayed around them as well as Roger and Sara in the background.
We immediately see in the first trailer that Dusty and Brad have worked out their own relationship to keep the kids happy. They’re planning Christmas and it winds up both of their families are coming to visit. We meet Dusty’s dad and see the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. That’s true of Brad’s dad as well. The two grandfathers introduce a new dynamic into the family, but we also see that Brad and Dusty still have issues they’re working through.
OK. Sure. Fine. Whatever.
The second trailer is a bit longer and adds a few additional jokes that hint at continued tension between Brad and Rusty but doesn’t make the movie look any funnier and still shows a tragic underuse of Cardellini.
We skip the pickups at the airport and get straight to the awkwardness of the whole family being together in the final official trailer. While everyone is initially playing nice the tensions quickly rise as Brad and Dusty keep trying to make this co-dad thing work amidst so much chaos, the expectations of their own fathers and other problems.
Online and Social
When the official website loads you get the theatrical poster on one-third of the page while the other two-thirds are dominated by both a list of local theaters where you can buy tickets and a map to those theaters.
In the content menu at the top the next section is “Videos,” which has both trailers as well as one of the TV spots. “Synopsis” is where you’ll find a brief plot overview as well as the cast and crew lists.
Three production stills don’t make much of a “Gallery,” but that’s next. Finally there’s the “Partners” section with links to the companies that signed on for promotional support.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
TV spots like this one started running about a month and a half out from release. That one focuses on the tenuous co-dad relationship Dusty and Brad have worked out, a delicate balance that’s upset when their respective fathers show up for Christmas and bring along their own personalities and issues.
There were also a few promotional partners, including:
- Alaska Airlines, which ran a sweeps awarding trips to the Paramount Movie Lot for a tour.
- American Express, though details on what that company did aren’t clear and not easily found.
- Auntie Anne’s, which ran a sweeps giving away a grand prize of a screening for 50 people at a local theater.
- Carl’s Jr., which offered movie-branded drink cups in stores. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some major product placement in the movie as well.
- TipsyElves, which created a few movie-themed ugly Christmas sweaters.
Online ads used the key art and video clips. Videos like the trailers and TV commercials were also used on social media in promoted posts.
Media and Publicity
There were various small conversations with members of the cast, but this feature interview of Ferrell seems to be the core component. In it he talks about working with Wahlberg and more, including the addition of Gibson to the cast. Notably, the secondary stories resulting from that interview in the entertainment press focused on his remarks regarding an unmade sequel to Step Brothers, not this movie itself.
Ferrell’s comments about Gibson try to play up how good he is in comedies and how surprised the audience will be. But Gibson’s inclusion in the cast of a generic family comedy was held up by many as problematic given the actor’s anti-semitic rant a decade ago. His being “rehabilitated” by Hollywood is a sign of white male privilege, that going away for a while allows all to be forgiven in the name of star power. That was problematic back when he was first announced as part of the film but is only more so now, in the wake of the sexual harassment, rape and pedophilia scandals sweeping through the entertainment, media and other industries.
The campaign for the 2015 original wasn’t all that interesting, simply selling 90 minutes of watching Ferrell fall down. Even that, in execution, was hugely disappointing and uninspired. The message for the sequel isn’t all that different or more compelling, showing that the audience can expect a lot of pissing contests as the five men who are core to the story seek to one-up each other in “comedic” ways.
There’s not a whole lot here that’s different than that campaign from a couple years ago. It’s clear that the story is essentially the same, just with a couple elements scribbled in the margins to make it seem fresh, like spices added to fish that’s off but still just barely good enough to serve. If you enjoyed the first movie, you’re promised more of the same. It’s as generic and offensive as possible, all hiding under the label of “comedy.”
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.