Casa de mi Padre (2012)
Release Date: March 16th, 2012 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Matt Piedmont Actors: Will Ferrell, Diego Luna, Genesis Rodriguez, Efren Ramirez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Sandra Echeverria, Mariann Gavelo, Gayle Sherman
ike many comedies, especially those of the “Saturday Night Live” variety, “Casa de mi Padre” takes a funny, fresh little skit and tries to stretch it out to a feature length movie. There are definitely amusing moments worked into the mix, but the big laughs elude director Matt Piedmont’s theatrical debut (he previously helmed “Carpet Bros.” and “Funny or Die Presents… TV shorts”). Failure to score at least a couple of laugh-out-loud moments makes this parody threateningly forgettable. And the fact that it’s entirely in Spanish might just be its death knell (even though from a creative standpoint, it’s mirthfully unique).
Armando Alvarez (Will Ferrell) is a simple rancher who takes pride in his heritage, his country, and his rolled cigarettes. His father (Pedro Armendariz Jr.) isn’t proud of his son, never fully forgiving Armando for accidentally killing his mother. Raul (Diego Luna), the financially successful, charming, well-dressed sibling has arrived back in town with his new girlfriend Sonia Lopez (Genesis Rodriguez), giving rise to both celebration and jealousy. But Raul is butting into the territory of opprobrious drug dealer Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal), in league with corrupt officials and conniving DEA agent Greg Parker (Nick Offerman), who is keen on offing his competition with guns with conspicuously unlimited ammo.
The humor is all over the place, taking stabs at stereotypes, music, scenery and primarily, editing. In an effort to spoof low budgets and inexperienced filmmaking, “Casa de mi Padre” goes to great lengths to highlight inferior quality – continuity errors are blatant, digital effects are shoddy, matte paintings are lamentable, camera zooms are pointless, song lyrics are goofy, and many background elements are unusually peculiar – such as mannequins substituting for extras (this would never happen, regardless of monetary shortcomings) and Jim Henson’s puppets utilized for multiple animal scenes (including owls, calves and a monstrous white jaguar). The easily observable fakeness of these creatures is all part of the game. These gimmicks are mildly amusing the first time they’re seen, but like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’ “Grindhouse” and “Machete” efforts, the highfaluting maneuver wears out quickly, especially when the film is deteriorated, spliced, and cut to reflect decay.
Purposeful bad filmmaking and the inconsistency of short, choppy jokes aside, “Casa de mi Padre” still doesn’t even bother to develop an engaging story. Tacking buffoonery onto a plot that has absolutely no complexities amounts to very little. It essentially establishes a setting and characters for lampooning, mockery and a touch of social satire, for accomplished actors to appear alongside celebrated comedians, and for humorously forced grandiosity (coupled with genuinely thrilling music) – via slow-motion shootouts, epic romance, gravity-defying blood splatter, and an uncomfortably weird sex scene. Having high expectations for a Will Ferrell film is uncommon, however, so this new comedy is likely to appeal to his hordes of fans and the undiscerning casual moviegoer.
– Mike Massie