Director: Matt Piedmont
Starring: Will Ferrell, Genesis Rodriguez, Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal, Efren Ramirez, Adrian Martinez, Nick Offerman
Will Ferrell is probably the biggest name going around in comedy movies at the moment, so it seems amazing that a Will Ferrell comedy could fly under the radar as much as Casa de mi Padre (‘My Father’s House’) has. That is, until you see it. Then it all makes sense.
Ferrell plays Armando, the simple son – simple both in terms of intellect and in terms of what he wants out of life – of a Mexican rancher. One day his more successful brother, Raul, his father’s favourite, returns home with a new fiancée in tow. But Raul brings trouble with him as unbeknownst to the family, his success has come as a result of his work in the drugs trade, and his fiancée is the runaway neice of the local drug lord, Onza.
What makes this movie different from every other Will Ferrell movie, and provides both the movie’s primary point of interest and the number one reason that it has nowhere near the profile of his other work, is that it is almost entirely in Spanish. Casa de mi Padre pretends to be some cross between a cheap, Mexican B-movie Western and a Telemundo Spanish soap opera. Credit should be given to Ferrell who spent a month working with a dialect coach to get his Spanish dialogue down pat and appears to hold his own alongside a cast of native Spanish speakers, albeit in the opinion of a non-Spanish speaker.
For what is clearly meant to be a comedy though, there aren’t really that many gags. Instead the film relies on that premise – that it is pretending to be a poorly made Mexican melodrama – to get its laughs. So we get constant breaks in continuity, obvious painted backdrops, bad puppets in place of animals and actors being replaced by mannequins at for dangerous moments. There is even a moment where in place of a scene we get a letter from the 2nd Assistant Cameraman apologising that we won’t get to see a particularly exciting scene due to a terrible accident that resulted from poorly trained animals. While this premise might work quite well for a sketch, or even a series of sketches, on Saturday Night Live, it has been stretched really thin to reach even the relatively short runtime of 84 minutes. As a result the laughs are few and far between.
Rating – ★
Review by Duncan McLean