Review: Casa de mi Padre
PLOT: Hard times have come upon the Alvarez family. Proud papa Miguel is left waiting for his successful son to come and save them from the hardship they have fallen under. Not to mention the drug dealers polluting their homeland. Too bad for Miguel, the one son that remains is Armando who is far from bright and not a whole lot of help to him. However when Raul returns with a beautiful fiancé, it is clear to his dim bulb brother that there is something nasty in the enchilada. Will Armando be able to stand up and fight for his family? Find out next time on CASA DE MI PADRE.
It would be easy to see how some audiences might not appreciate the humor in a film like CASA DE MI PADRE. And guaranteed if this is not your humor, it probably won’t work for you. While preparing to write this review, another critics write-up made me smile just a little. He found the dialogue to be terrible and others may feel the same way. In fact, the script is ridiculously silly as it plays out the proceedings in a dead serious sort of way. Yet this is the best direction to take in this satirical look (some may call it a spoof) at telenovelas. In fact, it feels exactly like the type of entertainment it is celebrating… a big screen telenovela featuring Will Ferrell! If you don’t know what that kind of flick might be and are unfamiliar with this type of Spanish soap opera, well maybe this isn’t for you.
Will Ferrell is Armando Alvarez, a dim but good-hearted ranchero helping his father Miguel (the late Pedro Armendáriz Jr.) manage their land. Yet things are not good for the Alvarez clan, in fact, things are terrible. With drug runners corrupting their very homeland - and Armando too stupid to be of much use - Miguel has hopes that his smarter, more successful son Raul (Diego Luna) will save them. And when the younger brother returns with the lovely senorita Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez) on his arm, it is clear that they are in for a change. Too bad for everyone that Sonia is running away from her jealousy driven, drug dealing "Uncle" Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal). Will the cowardice Armando discover his inner Bengal tiger and fight back against corrupt law enforcement and Onza? Queue mariachi music now!
CASA DE MI PADRE is one of the most consistently funny flicks I’ve seen in a long time. One could describe it as the most impressive Ed Wood film ever made, if Mr. Wood was truly aware of the humor he was creating. Many of the sets are obviously fake as are many of the animals. One hilarious sequence explains how freakin’ amazing a scene would have been had they been able to put it in the film. We find this out via a written letter. Yet in all of this craziness, each of the players maintains a mostly serious poker face. When they are in a violent shoot-out, they are really in a violent shoot out, only they really need to finish that drink and smoke that cigarette. The over-dramatic dialogue is treated as Shakespeare to an extent, and it only makes the outrageousness all the more humorous.
Honestly, CASA DE MI PADRE is mucho, mucho hilariouso! Much of the time I laughed so hard that I cried, as did the room full of critics I saw it with (my bet, most of them wouldn’t admit it). However, this brand of humor is not for everyone and it may divide audiences. It is hard to label a film like this, as it has elements of satire, yet some may find it as simply low brow theatrics. Yet for my money, CASA stands far above the likes of such sophomoric fare as MEET THE SPARTANS or even the SCARY MOVIE franchise. The actors here do some really terrific work, and it is exciting to see Will Ferrell in something that really explores his talent as opposed to some of his recent cinematic endeavors. Viva la Ferrell!
As much as I enjoyed CASA, the fact that it does teeter into SNL territory does dampen some of the excitement as occasionally a joke will last just a moment too long, or may even fall flat. While this is only a distraction for me, it may be a fatal flaw for those annoyed with subtitles or audiences with zero patience for cheesy Spanish television. However director Matt Piedmont and screenwriter Andrew Steele proudly presents this fable of fun with the right amount of goofy laughs. With a cast like Ferrell, Luna, Bernal, Rodriguez and Armendáriz Jr., it is hard to falter too much. Each of these actors gives their all and thankfully they rise to the occasion. This here is worth saddling up for.