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Overall Rating
3.75

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look75%
Just Average: 25%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
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1 review, 2 user ratings



Casa de mi Padre
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by Peter Sobczynski

"The One Amigo"
4 stars

If "Casa de mi Padre" does nothing else, it establishes once and for all that comedian Will Ferrell can, within budgetary reason, come up with whatever deranged cinematic concept he can think of and actually get it made. After all, at a time when comedic peers like Jim Carrey or Adam Sandler are doing high-concept, low-brow schtick that finds them playing opposite a bunch of penguins or themselves in drag, here is Ferrell in a low-budget Spanish-language spoof of old Mexican telenovelas that finds him not only acting as part of an otherwise authentically south-of-the-border ensemble cast but speaking the language as well in the service of a storyline in which the gimmick of Ferrell playing arguably the oddest-looking Mexican since Charlton Heston appeared in "Touch of Evil" is not the central focus of the humor. In theory, this is one of the odder comedic premises to serve as the basis of a film in recent memory--even ore so in practice--and at at times, it occurred to me that the starry-eyed dreamers who actually sunk their money into its production most likely did so not because of their expectations of turning an enormous profit but because they just wanted to see the damn thing with their own eyes.

Ferrell stars as, believe it or not, Armando Ernesto, a sweet-but-semi-stupid rancher working the land belonging to his father (the late Pedro Armendariz Jr., in what would be the last and arguably looniest entry in his long filmography) alongside his best pals (Efren Ramirez and Adrian Martinez). Armando is completely content with his life but things are soon turned upside-down with the return of brother Raul (Diego Luna) to the fold with big plans to take care of his father's financial debts once and for all and a heretofore unknown fiancee in tow, the lovely and fragrant Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez). Having never known the love of a woman, Armando is thunderstruck the first time he glimpses his brother's future bride and responds in the only logical manner--rejecting even her most innocent gestures of friendship as the cunning traps of a heartless gold-digger. What Armando and his father fail to quite realize is that Raul has made his fortune as an up-and-coming drug lord and now that he has infringed on the territory of the fearsome Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal--yes, this is an "Y Tu Mama Tambien" reunion as well)--who also has an unexpected connection to Sonia to boot--Onza vows to destroy Raul and the entire family in order to get back what is his. Inevitably, it all leads up to Armando being forced to man up and take on Onza himself in order to save his father's land, reclaim his honor and rescue the woman that he now realizes that he loves. How he gets to that point, on the other hand, is another thing entirely.

To be brutally honest, the notion of watching Will Ferrell playing a Mexican rancher and speaking Spanish without any apology or explanation is the kind of one-joke premise that might be amusing for approximately the length of a "SNL" sketch, depending on how late in the show it has been placed. Happily, screenwriter Andrew Steele and director Matt Piedmont appear to feel the same way and after the first couple of minutes, they no longer mine that particular vein of comedy for laughs. Instead, they are more amused by the notion of doing a straight-faced spoof of low-budget Mexican soap operas and exploitation movies by lovingly replicating everything from their weirdo plot twists to the occasional tattiness of their productions. Kicking off with a Christina Aguilera theme song that somehow manages to mock overblown movie theme songs while still somehow working as a pretty good one in its own right, the film delights in offering up silly little details that mock everything from the unconvincing backgrounds and insert shots to the tendency in such enterprises to cram as many attractive women into the proceedings as feasible (such as Dad's army of scantily-clad maids and the presence of the drool-worthy Genesis Rodriguez, possessor of one of the great names of our time and so much more). There are also moments that are more typical of a Ferrell enterprise i the way that they slip from mere absurdity to complete lunacy in the blink of an eye--my favorites being Armando's flashback to the death of his beloved mother and a mountain lion-coyote brawl that does not go quite as expected. Amidst all of the silliness, Ferrell and his co-stars play the material straight and indeed, that is the only proper way to do it because to add another level of jokiness to the proceedings would be too much for its own good.

In the name of full disclosure, I should probably admit that when I left the screening of "Casa de mi Padre" with mixed feelings towards it. On the one hand, I did laugh a lot during it and appreciated the fact that at 84 minutes and change, it didn't outlast its welcome. On the other hand, there was just something about it that kept me from fully embracing it. However, as I thought about it over the next couple of days before sitting down to write about it, I found that my initial objections to it had pretty much faded away while I could still recall and chuckle at the memory of the stuff that I did like. In essence, this may be nothing more than a gimmick film along the lines of "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra"--that pitch-perfect spoof of cheapo sci-fi epics from the Fifties--but as such things go, it gets the job done pretty well. Whether or not you will like will depend on whether any of what I have described sounds as if it might be amusing to you at all. If it does, then by all means go and enjoy yourself. If not, you may as well stay away because there is little to it that is likely to win you over. However, if you do go, just be sure to stay all the way through the end credits. Trust me on this one.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=23155&reviewer=389
originally posted: 03/15/12 15:55:02
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2012 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/26/13 mr.mike Pretty good home vid rental. 3 stars
7/23/12 The Taitor Not his best work but there are plenty of smaller laughs, rental at best 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  16-Mar-2012 (R)
  DVD: 17-Jul-2012

UK
  N/A

Australia
  16-Mar-2012
  DVD: 17-Jul-2012




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