Review: Why Him?

Why Him?
4 10

PLOT: A mild-mannered dad (Bryan Cranston) discovers, to his horror, that his twenty-two year-old daughter (Zoey Deutch) is dating an eccentric internet tech multimillionaire (James Franco) with no boundaries.

REVIEW: I had high hopes that WHY HIM would be the movie that salvaged 2016 as far as comedies go. After all, it had James Franco in it, a story by credit by Jonah Hill, and the great Bryan Cranston co-starring. What could go wrong? Plenty, it seems. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from a movie like WHY HIM, with the main take-away being this: a big concept doesn’t mean big laughs.

Director John Hamburg, who last directed the great I LOVE YOU, MAN, and co-wrote this with Ian Helfer, just flips the script on his own MEET THE PARENTS (which he co-wrote fifteen years ago – I can’t believe it’s been that long). The only difference is that Dad is now the neurotic, uptight one, while the younger man is the intense one with the balance of power on his side. It’s inexplicable that everyone, immediately, loves Franco’s Laird, particularly Zoey Deutch’s Stephanie. Whether she’s attracted to his money is side-stepped early on, where we learn she fell in love with him as he posed as a penniless, UBER IT guy. Having her fall for the money would have at least been understandable as they have so little in common, with oddball chemistry not helped by the fact Franco’s a good sixteen years older than her.

Hence, you’re kind of on Cranston’s side as he tries to get the goods on Laird, particularly once he finds out he wants he’s convinced her to drop out of school to become the CEO of a non-profit he invented to placate her. In fact, you’re so much on Cranston’s side that everyone else seems on the verge of insanity, even his wife, played by the always reliable Megan Mullally. This brings us to another point, as perhaps in an effort to make us like Laird more, Cranston is portrayed as a real stick-in-the-mud. It doesn’t make sense Mullally would put up with him, and the relationship between him and his fifteen year old son doesn’t come off any better. Basically, he’s an asshole – yet we still sympathize with him over Laird.

That’s bad.

James Franco doesn’t deserve all the blame. He’s a funny guy and he goes all-in as Laird, but the character is two-dimensional. He needed some heart, but the character isn’t given any. He’s just a crazy guy doing wild things, and while the first few scenes with him are funny it all wears thin very fast. Too bad, because it a better vehicle Cranston and Franco may have proven to be a good duo (and the two seem to have sparked an off-screen friendship, with Cranston due to play himself in the upcoming THE MASTERPIECE).

Really, all the ingredients are here, making it even more puzzling that the movie falls as flat as it does. Coming off KEANU and the underrated DON’T THINK TWICE, Keegan Michael Key plays Franco’s Kato-like live-in assistant, while Deutch follows-up a promising turn in EVERYBODY WANTS SOME with a performance that’s maybe too authentic in a film this broad. It’s a fine line. It doesn’t help that the movie had a flat, cheap look, while the pacing is badly off-key, with the nearly two hour running time being especially fatal. A late-in-the-game cameo by half of a rock-group (the two famous members) and a dumb resolution that comes out of nowhere and feels unearned are the final nails in the coffin of this messy studio comedy. Everyone involved has done better and will again. Chalk this one up as a major miss.

Source: JoBlo.com



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