I’m “biast” (pro): loving Will Ferrell’s audacity of late
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
Forget what you think movie comedy in the 21st century is supposed to look like, all grossout humiliation so broad it can be seen from orbit. Casa de Mi Padre is a hilarious harkening back to cheapo 60s and 70s Mexican westerns, sure, but it’s also much more akin in spirit to the Hollywood comedies of that era. A little bit Mel Brooks, a little bit Airplane!: subtle humor that slips under your radar instead of bashing you over the head is what makes Casa one of the more adventurous comedies in recent years, not the fact that it assumes the viewer is okay with reading subtitles. Though there is that, too. A Funny or Die team including writer Andrew Steele and director Matt Piedmont — as well as, of course, star Will Ferrell, one of the founders of Funny or Die — mock up a brother-versus-brother melodrama set on a Mexican ranch as city-slicker Raul (Diego Luna: Contraband) returns home with bride-to-be Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez: What to Expect When You’re Expecting), much to the chagrin of none-too-bright but deeply romantic Armando (Ferrell: Megamind), who suspects Sonia of gold-digging; meanwhile, druglord Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal: A Little Bit of Heaven) is encroaching on the ranchlands. It’s just a framework upon which to hang a slew of sly digs at the fakery not just of Z-grade Mexican movies but of all movies: enjoy continuity and subtitle jokes, cheesy fake backdrops and amateurish dialogue, over-the-top melodrama and outrageous violence, and scenes that no one knows how to end. Most of the humor will be best appreciated by movie geeks, and may well even slip by more casual fans, though anyone can appreciate the musical interludes that are oddly off-kilter while still supercatchy, and the comic bit of business Bernal engages in with a couple of cigarettes. For all the funny stuff, though, there’s also a surprising touch of sharper satire about the drug business in Mexico and its hypocritical American customers, as well as some striking imagery: the psychedelic dream sequence is as absurdly bizarre as it is visually inventive. Ándale!