Casa De Mi Padre
Director: Matt Piedmont
Stars: Will Ferrell, Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna
One certainly deserves acknowledgement for at least trying something original. Will Ferrell came up with the idea for making this movie while randomly watching telenovelas on Mexican television one day. For those that don’t know, telenovelas are Spanish TV soap operas which, just like the soap operas in the United States, are over-melodramatic serials. Will got together a few of his friends from Funny or Die and decided to make their own little parody of the genre. Oh this movie is unfunny and fails on so many grandiose levels – but still, at least the effort to do something new was there. Will Ferrell could have taken the easy route and simply done another goofy sports comedy, but instead he decided, “hey, let’s try out this experiment.” It didn’t work – but at least he did it!
Ferrell stars in Casa De Mi Padre Armando Alvarez, a rancher dedicated to serving the interests of his father’s property. He’s not too bright but, really, is any Will Ferrell character an intelligent person? While he does the whole part in Spanish, in fact 99% of the movie is in Spanish, he’s still typecast here as the lovable dolt. Armando’s brother Raul (Diego Luna) returns back to the ranch with his young fiancee Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez) with a plan to save the place from financial ruin. Of course, this plan ends up becoming an all-out war with some drug dealers led by Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal). That is the story, when it chooses to tell it as most of the movie is just Will Ferrell wandering around Mexico doing Will Ferrell stuff in a different language.
The movie has such an odd sense of humor that it’s difficult to tell when a moment is supposed to be funny or if it’s just doing a very bad job at being serious. For instance, there’s a moment early on in the movie when Armando tells his friends that he hasn’t settled down because he hasn’t found the right woman yet. He laughs about. His friends laugh. He laughs some more. Everyone laughs. This goes on for a a few minutes of just these characters laughing. It wasn’t even a funny line! This bit of the long take of laughter dying down worked okay the few times in Anchorman, but here? No – and it doesn’t work the multiple other times it occurs in the movie either. More “humor” is also derived from the characters simply being WAY too serious and melodramatic. That kind of intentional hamming works when done right, in specific situations. Here, however? It just looks like the filmmaker are the only ones in on a joke and they don’t care if you are too or not.
Then there is that sex scene – I think I should touch on that for a moment, though I really do not want to. In an interview about this production, Ferrell explained that for the scene where Armando and Sonia have sex, the screenplay simply said “there’s lots of butts.” Indeed, there are a lot of butts in this scene – just unecessary shots of these two grabbing each others butts in some weird style of anti-humor. Then, randomly, Armando is rolling around on the ground with a mannequin. It took me a little while to figure out just what the hell THAT was about. You see, the mannequin was supposed to be a body double. Casa De Mi Padre has a BAD habit of breaking the fourth wall by showing fake bad production value. There’s a cougar on the ranch, but all we see is stuffed cougar and some sounds of growling. It’s deliberate – just to make the movie look like a hastily produced Mexican western, and it REALLY pissed me off. Except for one moment, right before an epic battle between the fake cougar and the fake coyotes – the film stops and suddenly there’s a letter from the film’s “director” explaining why the effects look so cheap. One of the few moments that I laughed.
Casa De Mi Padre is an interesting experiment but not a good movie. It fails at being a parody because it misses a lot of what makes the genre popular, it fails at being a comedy because nothing in here is funny and it fails at being entertaining because its just so awkward. If you do choose to watch this movie don’t go into it expecting something laugh-out-loud funny. I’m sure the cast and crew had a great time making this film and could share dozens of anecdotes of hilarious on-set antics. Too bad none of that joy made it’s way into the final product. Most of the movie seems like someone telling a funny story that’s really not that entertaining and finally finished with: “Well, if you’d seen it, I promise you would have thought it was the funniest thing ever.” Really, if you can’t tell a story with same type of emotional passion it instilled in you then don’t bother telling a story.
I do have to admit, however. The odd commercial for Haggerty brand cigarettes at the end of the movie DID make me laugh.