Daddy’s Home 2 (12A) ★☆☆☆☆

WILL Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg team up once again for this misjudged, mean-spirited and, worst of all, painfully unfunny sequel that gives Christmas movie season a bad name.

The first Daddy’s Home pitted buttoned-up stepdad Brad (Ferrell) and his kids’ more rugged father Dusty (Wahlberg) against each other in an increasingly ridiculous battle of one-upmanship. But having now settled their differences and living as co-dads to Megan (Scarlett Estevez) and Dylan (Owen Vaccaro), much to the contentment of their mother Sara (Linda Cardellini), this year they decide to celebrate a “together Christmas” as one big happy family.

But there’s a hitch in that their own dads are coming to spend the holiday season with them: Brad’s loquacious, overly friendly father Don (John Lithgow) and Dusty’s ultra-macho dad Kurt (Mel Gibson), who only makes an appearance every five years. Family chaos ensues, the jokes flat-line and uneasiness levels rise.

This cash-grab of a sequel lacks the comic wit and timing that it takes to make lowbrow humour hit the mark, while any semblance of sweetness that the first film may have had is conspicuous by its absence here. Instead we’re left with a sludgy avalanche of one-note slapstick – it acts like it invented people being hit in the face with a snowball – and crude, cynical jokes that seem to celebrate sexism, toxic masculinity and mob-mentality ridicule at every turn.

Quite apart from the quasi-charming antagonism and amiable screen chemistry between Ferrell and Wahlberg being mostly squandered here, the film’s most problematic aspect is the stunt casting of Mel Gibson. The film seems to rub its hands together with glee at playing up the chauvinism and sexism of his real-life controversy from a few years ago.

His character is the kind of relic of a bygone era that nobody would want to spend time with at all, much less at Christmas, gurning with pride as his granddaughter kills her very first turkey with a rifle or gruffly chuckling at his own jokes about prostitutes. Are we, for example, supposed to be rolling in the aisles laughing when Kurt instructs his young grandson to slap a girl’s behind to “get in the end zone”?

It’s the kind of icky stuff that the film blindly holds aloft but also expects us to forget when it stumbles on to one of the most unauthentic and entirely unearned schmaltzy finales the big screen has seen in a long while.

This is one supposedly family-friendly festive comedy that leaves a very sour taste in the mouth.