Casa de mi Padre

Casa de mi Padre 09

Once I heard that Will Ferrell would be starring in a telenovela styled comedy where he speaks Spanish for the whole movie I was in. I didn’t know what he was up to, but I wanted to be a part of it. I was hoping for the best. I probably should have realized that there’s a reason why this movie hasn’t getting much publicity. It isn’t very good.

Ferrell plays Armando Alvarez, an idealistic Mexican rancher who loves the land more than anything else, even women. He lives a simple and contented life with his constantly-belittling father, Miguel Ernesto (played by Pedro Armendáriz Jr.), their many maids in skimpy uniforms, and his good-natured farmhand friends, Esteban (Efren Ramirez) and Manuel (Adrian Martinez).

Esteban, Manuel y Armando

The problem begins when Raul, Armando’s brother, returns home with his fiancée, Sonia (played by Genesis Rodriguez). Raul (played by Diego Luna) is easily their father’s favorite. He’s become a big shot out in the city as evidenced by his sunglasses and neatly manicured facial hair. But Armando soon discovers that his brother’s fortune is due to drug trafficking. Not only does this cause a rift in the family, but it seems the local drug boss, La Onza (played by Gael García Bernal), is not too keen on another drug runner in the neighborhood. The corrupt government gets involved in the feud as does the American DEA. There are showdowns and standoffs of course, and as expected Armando falls for Sonia.

 

Armando Alvarez

Sonia y Armando

It’s a fine, workable plot, especially when you consider that plots are rarely the selling points of Will Ferrell movies. It’s his characters and his acting that we love so much, and he does good work here giving Armando a boyish and earnest charm. Not many people can play sincerely obtuse as well as Ferrell. A lot of my laughs indeed came from his deadpan reactions to the silliness around him.  Still, I didn’t connect with Armando nearly as well as Ferrell’s other characters. Maybe it was because I had to read what he saying, instead of getting the full Will Ferrell delivery. Maybe he wasn’t obtuse enough. Or maybe he didn’t seem as vulnerable as Ferrell’s characters typically are. I’m not really sure.

I didn’t connect with the supporting characters either. Each of Ferrell’s costars were more than fine in their roles, but the roles just weren’t written funny enough. La Onza had a couple of chuckle-inducing moments. The father could have been funny, but we’ve seen the mean father so many times already. Raul had some amusing facial expressions. Sonia was there. What makes a lot of Ferrell’s movies good is the comedic strength of his costars, from John C. Reilly to Paul Rudd to Steve Carrell to John C. Reilly to Vince Vaughn to John C. Reilly. Maybe some of them could have brought more to the film. I actually think it would have been pretty funny if there were more Americans in the movie going full Spanish like Ferrell. (It makes me laugh to even think of David Koechner speaking Spanish.)

As it is, the gimmick of Ferrell speaking Spanish wears off pretty quickly. He’s stated in interviews that he didn’t want his speaking Spanish to be the joke of the movie, and it really isn’t. He plays it straight, speaking perfect Spanish. After a while you don’t even notice it anymore. I don’t know if that’s a good thing. If we stop noticing it, what’s the point of it?

I’ve been wondering if I would have enjoyed the movie more if I had more knowledge of the telenovelas they were parodying. There were some easy jokes related to having a low-budget, like obvious fake scenery, but I’m sure there were things that I missed due to my ignorance. At times the acting was a bit overdramatic, which I’m assuming was in the style of telenovelas, but maybe if I had seen those films I’d have appreciated the over-acting, instead of wishing they would get to the next joke.

I’m still (and probably always will be) a Will Ferrell fan, and I’ll be back at the theater for his next film, but this one just didn’t work for me. I wish they had made a more interesting story. I wish I connected better with his character. I wish the supporting characters had been funnier. I wish they had gone a little wilder with it and maybe winked at the audience a little more. Thankfully I did have a couple of really big laughs, and I’m talking thigh-slapping, tears-streaming-down-my-face laughs. Those moments are so rare, that I’m just grateful when they happen. For that I thank you Will Ferrell and co.

 

Casa De Mi Padre
Director: Matt Piedmont (Funny or Die Presents)
Writer: Andrew Steele (The Ladies Man, Saturday Night Live, Funny or Die Presents)

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