Friday, March 7, 2014

Casa de mi Padre Review

I seem to have been giving a lot of the movies that I have recently seen predominantly positive reviews. It's high time for a bad movie. I heard about Casa de mi Padre (2012) from The Q Filmcast. I figured it was a bad movie because Will Ferrell is in it. When it comes to disappointing, Will Ferrell rarely disappoints.
Armando Alvarez (Will Ferrell) has lived and worked on his father's ranch in Mexico his entire life. As the ranch encounters financial difficulties, Armando's younger brother Raul (Diego Luna) shows up with his new fiancé, Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez). It seems that Raul's success as an international businessman means the ranch's troubles are over as he pledges to settle all debts his father has incurred. But when Armando falls for Sonia, and Raul's business dealings turn out to be less than legit, all hell breaks loose as they find themselves in a war with Mexico's most feared drug lord, the mighty Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal).
 This movie is an odd phenomenon. Once the opening credits are over and before the first scene starts you hear Kris Kristofferson doing a short voice-over that says, "If it sound Spanish, man, that's what it is; it's a Spanish movie." Apart from a couple of short lines from an American character, everything is in Spanish. Will Ferrell spent a month learning Spanish with a dialect coach for the role. I'm far from fluent in Spanish, but Ferrell's Spanish is spot on and is pretty convincing from my perspective. At first I had thought it was a voice over, but no, that's really him. I kept expecting poor Spanish from Ferrell, or at least discrepancies between the dialogue and subtitles, but no such luck.
The movie tries very hard to parody Mexican Telenovelas; limited-run dramatic programming with soap opera quality dramatics and dialogue. Everything is highly intense and exorbitantly dramatic; subtlety has no place in this soap opera style movie. There are lots of gags to suggest a low budget; small sets with obviously painted backdrops, a lot of fake animals used as props, intentionally using editing mistakes and errors in cutting the film during editing. There's one scene when Armando and Sonia ride side by side in a shot that doesn't actually show the horses they are riding on while the background slides past at a different speed than the horses are apparently galloping. During fight scenes Raul is always smoking, and often has an alcoholic drink in one hand.
The movie is in Spanish, but I genuinely don't think it is intended for Spanish speaking audiences. It's features a lot of American style humor, but it's in Spanish. Armando and his fellow Rancheros will make a joke and then chuckle amongst themselves for an uncomfortably long time. One time this is interrupted by Sonia who asks if she can be included in their joke. Armando unapologetically tells her no because the joke was about her. Seriously, that's just about the funniest bit of dialogue in the whole movie. In another scene, Onza is supposed to be delivering some dramatic lines while lighting up a cigarette. This is done naturally and fluidly and looks dramatic in an ironic sort of way. As he continues talking he lights a second cigarette and is soon speaking with two cigarettes hanging from his mouth. This is probably the funniest stunt in the whole movie. There's a ridiculous sex scene where about half the shots have a mannequin prop instead of Sonia. The humor is very typical of a Will Ferrell movie, that is to say, it's not very funny at all.
There are a couple of reasons this was probably a bomb in the box office. It's barely been two years since it was in theaters and no one can remember ever hearing about it. The advertising campaign must have been pitiable at best. On top of that, it's in Spanish with subtitles. Americans don't seem to like having to put forth the effort to read their movies, least of all the demographic that actually finds Will Ferrell's comedies funny. I prefer subtitled movies to dubbed movies; there is less interference with  the director's artistic intention. No one seems to have heard of Casa de mi Padre, and even upon hearing it, I doubt anyone would go out of their way to see it; it just isn't something that I think would appeal to very many people.
Casa de me Padre was just awful. It's kind of like a frozen enchilada dinner from the supermarket; it seems like it could be a good idea at first, but you quickly realize it lacks flavor or anything else appealing. The irony is thick in this movie; acting was ironically dramatic, the sets were cheap, the effects were terrible, and the dialogue was silly. That's great since that's what it was trying to do! However, it didn't do much other than be ironic. The movie is supposed to be first and foremost a comedy and it's just not funny. The humor is at best juvenile and usually didn't get a reaction from me. Seriously, the only movies that featured Will Ferrell that I liked were Stranger Than Fiction and The Lego Movie where he's counter typecast; he's just not good at being funny. Don't bother watching this movie. It's stupid. It does irony well, but not well enough to be enjoyable.

What's your favorite parody of a film genre? I like Kung Pow: Enter the Fist which is a parody of 1970's Kung Fu movies. Comment below and tell me about yours!

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