Will Ferrell’s humor is intact but his English isn’t. His latest film finds him in similar comedy territory but this time speaking entirely in Spanish. It may not be his best or funniest film but it’s sure a lot of fun.
Casa de mi Padre is a Spanish language film. In case the audience assumes otherwise, a narrator introduces it as such. Will Ferrell plays a rancher, Armando Alvarez, frequently called “dumb” or other similar put downs from his Father (Pedro Armendáriz Jr.) and those around him. However, his brother, and favored son, Raul (Diego Luna) has just returned home with his smokin’ hot fiancee Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez). Unfortunately, it seems Raul is now involved in the Mexican drug trade which has incited the wrath of local drug legend The Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal). Of course, Armando and Sonia have an immediate sexual tension as Armando realizes he’s the savior his family needs.
What the film is, at it’s most basic, is a play on Mexican soap operas. Ferrell’s usual oddball humor is still present, as evidenced by an opening scene that finds him and his two friends/co-ranchers Esteban (Efren Ramirez) and Manuel (Adrian Martinez) continuing to laugh until it becomes uncomfortably awkward. However, the film (written and directed by Saturday Night Live alum writers Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont respectively) mostly serves as a genre exercise that’s never been fully attempted. What other comedian has done an entire film in another language aimed at his/her usual audience? At the very least Ferrell is trying something very differen,t even if it does fit into his canon quite nicely.
Fortunately, the film does offer enough laughs and amusing scenes to make it a success. Most of the humor derives from the not-so-subtle parodies of low budget telanovelas. While the story is surprisingly well thought out, it’s hardly executed well. But that’s the point. The audience is supposed to laugh at the characters, not with them. One recurring gag is Ferrell constantly rolling terrible cigarettes, only to have them disappear from his lips or have it replaced with a tightly rolled one between shots. An odd but apt comparison would be the similarly cult Grindhouse. Like the “missing” reel’s in Robert Rodriguez’s half, Planet Terror, Casa de mi Padre also plays up its notoriously low budget genre.
Some gags definitely fall flat, like an odd letter read aloud by a “crew member” detailing why a fight scene between a cougar and a wolf needed to be cut. But the film is amusing, and interesting, enough to warrant a viewing. It may not be the home run Ferrell and Co. were hoping for but for what it is (a small, Spanish-language comedy) it succeeds where it needs to.
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