Thursday, 14 March 2013

Casa de mi Padre

Casa de mi Padre

Armando Alvarez (Will Ferrell) is a simple soul.  He’s been content to live and work on his father’s ranch in Mexico all his life, has never had much truck with women or the outside world.  But when shady international ‘businessman’ and prodigal brother Raul (Diego Luna) returns to the ranch offering to pay all their father’s debts, with fiancé and hot tamale Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez) in tow, Armando finds love for the first time with his brother’s woman.  Things are further complicated when it’s revealed that Raul’s ‘business’ is the drug business, bringing the decent, honourable Armando into conflict with sleazy Mexican drug baron and Raul’s boss Onza (Gael García Bernal), a man so tough and evil he smokes two cigarettes at the same time!  When Onza kidnaps Sonia, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do and Armando saddles up to deal out his own brand of justice.

Filmed entirely in Spanish with English subtitles and played in the style of a melodramatic Mexican telenovela (all heaving bosoms, swelling music and bad dialogue), a lot of the reviews for Casa de mi Padre will tell you that it’s an interesting failure.  A bold mistake.  A noble misfire.  They’re wrong!  It’s not interesting!  And it’s not a mistake either.  The pendejos responsible inflicted this tedious, unfunny mess on us deliberately. 

A colossal vanity project the likes of which even a rampaging egotist like Sacha Baron Cohen couldn’t get away with, Casa de mi Padre is smug, cheesy, self-indulgent, one-joke movie.  Unfortunately, that joke will be lost on most of the audience who won’t have experienced the Mexican soap operas Ferrell and chums are spoofing.  It’s an overwrought genre where men are men, women are beautiful and busty, passions are scorching and the bad guys are more twisted than a corkscrew.  Casa de mi Padre is like an ultra-violent episode of Acorn Antiques in which Mrs Overall takes a Peckinpah-esque shotgun blast to the chest and still manages to plant one between Miss Babs’ eyes as her wounds ejaculate blood all over the wobbly set in slow motion. 

While this might have made a decent 3-minute sketch on Ferrell’s Funny Or Die website or an amusing but slightly annoying recurring character on Saturday Night Live, the film stretches material thinner than Jason Statham’s hairline out to feature-length.  At 84 loooooooong (oh, so long) minutes, Casa de mi Padre is the metaphorical equivalent of Will Ferrell dropping his trousers and waggling his junk in the audience’s face, tea-bagging them into submission while purring “Laugh, mi putitas, laugh,” in his schoolboy Spanish.

Throughout he wears the stiff frowning of a man who’s trying desperately to remember why the hell he thought doing a movie in Spanish was a good idea or, possibly, if he left the iron on at home.  He looks like a constipated Ron Perlman straining on the toilet. However, Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal are obviously having a whale of a time out-sleazing each other and the wonderfully monickered Genesis Rodriguez looks great.  Everyone looks like they’re having a great time, really enjoying themselves.  And there lies Casa de mi Padre’s biggest problem.  It’s not that everyone seems to be really enjoying themselves; it’s that everyone seems to be enjoying themselves more than you! 

Casa de mi Padre may just be the least funny comedy since the last cinematic stillbirth Adam Sandler dropped off at cinemas.  Actually, that’s an exaggeration.  Nothing’s as bad as Jack And Jill.  Still, Ferrell can’t slip back into Ron Burgandy’s loafers for Anchorman 2 soon enough. 

David Watson

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1 hour 24 minutes

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