Laughs En Español
Movie Review: "CASA DE MI PADRE"
Published: Friday, March 16, 2012
Updated: Friday, March 16, 2012 14:03
I don't generally like Will Ferrell movies. Outside of annual viewings of "ELF" (inflicted upon my family by my all-too-eager mother) and "NIGHT AT THE ROXBURY" (being a 90s icon,) I don't know that I've willingly watched or enjoyed a Will Ferrell movie before or since "STRANGER THAN FICTION." I went in to this movie knowing literally nothing about it except that it starred the aforementioned actor. What I found in "CASA DE MI PADRE" was a rare treat of sheer comedic genius with a style of humor you either like or you don't and no room for the wishy-washy. I loved the blatant and masterfully crafted subtle tokens of mocking and was shocked to find that Ferrel executed them perfectly -- despite the film being entirely Spanish.
"CASA DE MI PADRE" is the story of a man named Armando (Ferrell) and his attempts to make his family whole again. Raul returns from the big city with a new love on his arm, the woman he plans to make his wife, Sonia. Armando realizes that he, himself, finds Sonia remarkably attractive, but that they can never be together, for he believe she is the bad influence in Raul's life and is only after his money. It comes out that Raul has made most of his money from selling drugs and the existing drug lord, the Onza, doesn't like Raul invading his turf. A member of the American DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) also gets involved, trying to shut down the operation.
This is a film that never strays into "and then chaos ensues" territory; it doesn't take its comedy from wacky shenanigans. The plot is well articulated and complex without being convoluted. It begins with a black screen and a narration along the lines of: "If you hear something that sounds like Spanish, it is. This is a Spanish movie." While you are left uncertain as to whether that is part of its humor or a legitimate warning for unsuspecting audiences, Will Ferrell jumps down from his horse and approaches a small calf. When he stoops to pick it up, the cow has been replaced with a stuffed animal. It is this kind of cheap shot at old, low budget movies that tried too hard to be artistic (after someone is shot, blood drips from the strategically placed white rose at the end of the frame) with a heap of ridiculous, over-the-top concoctions (like a Jim Henson muppet) that make the movie a guilty pleasure that you'll undoubtedly want to share with friends.
"CASA DE MI PADRE" has a whole slew of talented actors. Diego Luna, who plays Raul in the film, impressed audiences in "Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN" before showing another kind of depth as Sean Penn's jealous lover in "MILK." Gael Garcia Bernal showcases great comedy as the Onza in the film after his own dramatic turns in "BABEL," "THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES," and also "Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN." Both Luna and Bernal are the last actors I would have expected to see in a comedy like this, yet both performed expertly. Armando's two friends, who show up repeatedly, are portrayed by Efren Ramirez of "NAPOLEON DYNAMITE" fame (Vote for Pedro!) and Adrian Martinez, who has been taking bit parts in films like "KICK ASS" and "IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY," providing the perfect balance of awkward and quirky. Finally, last but certainly not least, Genesis Rodriguez plays Sonia with a clear flair for the Mexican western knock-off. Though the opening credits offer her an "introducing:" title, Rodriguez recently appeared in "MAN ON A LEDGE" as well and, despite a small resume, has a fantastic sense of comedic timing.
For someone who doesn't normally like B-movies, westerns, or Will Ferrell, this film is an anomaly. Every individual piece of it has the potential to be truly terrible, but director Matt Piedmont (a Saturday Night Live writer and director for many Funny or Die bits) weaves them together into something magical. This movie is ridiculous in all the best ways and I really recommend it for a good laugh.