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Casa de mi Padre


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The tagline for Will Ferrell’s Casa de mi Padre is “Funniest move you’ll ever read.” Kudos for trying, Will, but not quite.

Grade:

D+

Armando Alvarez (Ferrell) is a lowly ranchero trying to keep his father’s land safe from drug lords like la Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal). When his brother, Raul (Diego Luna), returns home with the lovely Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez), things get a little more complicated since Raul is la Onza’s main competition for drug territory.

I am not the kind of person whose childhood was influenced primarily by my novella–watching Hispanic/Latina nanny, so I have very little background knowledge about the genre being spoofed here. Unfortunately, that greatly diminishes the humor and effect of the film. The mistakes of the film are made on purpose that pertain to the quality of those preceding films. A drink will switch hands or size and color entirely or a person will be wearing a shirt one minute and a huge poncho the next. They’re the kind of mistakes people notice in normal films and point out the sloppy continuity, but for Casa this is the norm.

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The mistake that Casa can be faulted for is being between two identities. On the one hand, it’s a niche comedy with a superstar comedian moving outside his comfort zone…barely. On the other, Casa tries to play up the storyline a bit too much. While the events still occur with the same tongue-in-cheek meta-humor, you can’t help but wonder if they are actually trying to make a semi-drama about a family torn apart by drugs—and to a lesser extent, idiocy. Maybe that’s part of the film’s hidden genius, but I felt there was a subtle hint of legitimacy trying to attach itself to the roles.

As you know by now, I find small things to complain about with films, but for Casa, the small thing is a big one: subtitle color. Gasp you should, but for some odd reason, a film in Spanish set in the deserts of Mexico has white subtitles. Try reading thin, white lettering on consistently bright screens with either tan or a slightly brighter shade of white as the background. Obviously, your eyes adjust, but it takes more time than it should when you are already dealt with the challenge of catching the subtle humor and reading the dialog simultaneously. If you decide to watch it, pro tip: ignore the subtitles. None of the dialog is remotely laugh-worthy anyway.

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Instead, the greatest part* of the film is watching the actors fumble around with their cigarettes, especially Ferrell. This is clearly homage to classic novella styling, but it’s still funny. A close second: Nick Offerman (Ron F*cking Swanson) speaking Spanish.

For some, Casa de mi Padre may be brilliant and sheer genius, but I am inclined to say it still would be underwhelming. Alas, for someone with no contextual knowledge, the film falls flat. But again, kudos to Ferrell for trying something new.

*Let’s be real. Ms. Rodriguez up there was the best part.

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