Casa de Mi Padre
If “Machete” taught us anything, it’s that some movies are just better left as shorts. The mock trailer found in Tarantino’s double-feature “Grindhouse” was thrilling, ridiculous and hilarious. The full length that followed was basically the opposite.
“Casa de Mi Padre” follows in a similar tradition, presenting us with a film that would have been better suited as a short feature.
Starring and produced by “Saturday Night Live” alum and overall American comedy hero Will Ferrell, “Casa de Mi Padre” is a Spanish-language film with a purely American comedic style. The film is basically a parody of telenovelas with a good deal of screwball humor thrown into the mix as well. If you’re not familiar with telenovelas, they are basically Spanish soap operas where overdramatized acting and melodramatic storylines are the norm.
Ferrell plays rancher Armando Alvarez, who is seen by his family as a dullard. After the death of his father, Armando finds himself in the position of defending the ranch from a bloodthirsty drug lord. Together with his younger brother, Raul (Diego Luna), they must also rescue Raul’s fiancee, played by the stunningly beautiful Génesis Rodríguez.
The foreign-language aspect adds an extra layer of depth that makes the film particularly unique. Ferrell’s dedication to his role as Armando is mighty impressive. His Spanish, albeit choppy at times, is surprisingly realistic. The parody aspect of the movie is also extremely authentic. Unfortunately, the script itself is rather hollow, and a majority of the gags fall short. Those expecting a lot more in the way of classic Ferrell-isms will instead find a film focused on stylization rather than humor. The extremely oddball nature of the comedy threw me for a loop. I enjoyed a slew of aspects of “Casa de Mi Padre,” particularly the look and feel of the movie, but the humor just wasn’t there for me. It felt like an “SNL” skit for the most part, but what would’ve been a treat as a short is dragged out to nearly 90 minutes.
On the plus side, the supporting cast is outstanding. Nick Offerman, of “Parks and Recreation” fame, has a cameo as DEA Agent Parker. His role as a sensationally closed-minded American balances nicely with the overt Hispanic caricatures exhibited in nearly every other character in the movie. Armando’s two sidekicks, Esteban and Manuel, prove the main source of comedic relief. Respectively played by Efren Ramirez and Adrian Martinez, the duo perfectly complement Ferrell’s clueless nature.
All in all, “Casa de Mi Padre” should’ve been great, but instead its boring script and lackluster plot makes the film merely OK. It’s a film where the parts outweigh the whole. I loved certain sequences, especially the interlude turned acid trip toward the end of the film. The oddball humor was reminiscent of anarchistic comedies of yore, but it didn’t hold together as a cohesive comedy. Rather, “Casa de Mi Padre” feels like a series of short skits strung together.
The fact that the film has an extremely limited release is reason enough to catch it while it’s in theaters. However, set your expectations lower than you would normally for a Will Ferrell movie and you’ll walk away appeased.