A Western satire
By Michael O'Sullivan
Friday, Mar. 16, 2012
What's the big idea with "Casa de Mi Padre"? Is the joke that Will Ferrell - playing a Mexican version of his signature, slightly dense Everyman - speaks nothing but Spanish throughout the film? (Pretty well, by the way.) Or is it that the movie is a parody of how cheesy a cheaply made, south-of-the-border Western can get? (Pretty cheesy, as it turns out.)
It's got to be one or the other, because those are the two hardest-working gags in the film, a deliberately inept spoof of accidentally inept filmmaking. It's perfect for a short clip on FunnyorDie.com. Padded out to feature length, with a bunch of other slight and unmemorable laughs, it wears thin.
Directed by Matt Piedmont and written by Andrew Steele (both former "Saturday Night Live" writers), the tongue-in-cheeky "Casa de Mi Padre" presents itself not as a contemporary Hollywood comedy, but as a Mexican B-movie, complete with sloppy editing, obviously painted backdrops, an overall yellow palette meant to evoke expired film stock, and a budget so low that a scene of Ferrell and co-star Genesis Rodriguez on horseback uses fake horses.
It's sort of funny. It's just not as funny as everyone involved seems think it is. If a bit works once, Piedmont and Steele milk it, repeating it two, three or more times.
Not that anyone's actually laughing on camera. Ferrell - who has built a career on his ability to maintain a deadpan while doing the most absurd things - is especially committed here. In fact, his investment in the character of Armando Alvarez - the dim scion of a Mexican rancher who falls in love with the fiancee (Rodriguez) of his brother (Diego Luna), and who must rescue her from a violent drug lord (Gael Garcia Bernal) - is a wonder to behold.
It's also a bit of an enigma.
As hard as it is to imagine "Casa de Mi Padre" with anyone other than Ferrell in the lead, it's also hard to imagine exactly what the actor saw in the role. With "Casa de Mi Padre," it's often hard to tell the difference between when it's making fun of bad movies and when it's being one.
Contains obscenity, violence, nudity and sex. In Spanish and a little English with English subtitles.