Casa De Mi Padre In America, Where Reading Movies
In Spanish Is Fundamentally Good
Genesis Rodriguez as Sonia and Will Ferrell as Armando in "Casa De Mi Padre".
Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
Friday, March 16,
Exceptionally thin but often extremely funny, the comedy adventure
"Casa De Mi Padre", Matt Piedmont's genre mash-up and homage to Sergio Leone and
grind house fare, charms and dazzles from start to finish. Will Ferrell
swallows a Spanish-language dictionary and goes for broke as Armando Alvarez,
the put-upon "covalde" of the Alvarez clan. Nothing is good enough for
Papa Alvarez (Pedro Armendáriz Jr.)
where his elder son Armando is concerned, but favored son Raul (Diego Luna) can
do no wrong, even if he is up to his ears in cocaine. Raul will marry the
beautiful Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez), even if Armando not-so secretly pines for
"Casa De Mi Padre" is, except for two lines, entirely in Spanish, and promises
that it's "the funniest movie you'll ever read." That guarantee is quite
accurate, although "Johnny Stecchino", Roberto Benigni's comedy, is fairly
formidable. That film's nimble humor isn't here, but Mr. Piedmont's film's
endurance and success is in its Jerry Zucker-like "Airplane" and "Naked Gun"
sight gags and diversions, as well as the actors' hesitations, exaggerated
inflections, especially from Gael Garcia Bernal as La Onza, hilarious here as a
villain who is also Sonia's uncle. Mr. Luna is also funny and great,
stopping at inopportune moments to drink and smoke. There's one scene
midway through "Casa De Mi Padre" that is an absolute gut-buster. Adam
McKay ("Anchorman") and his friend Mr. Ferrell go from strength to strength with
this film, which is snappy, smart and short enough not to overstay its welcome.
As written by Andrew Steele, "Case De Mi Padre" hardly disguises its intentions
as a wacky, absurd comedy romp, but there are moments of blunt violence and
drama, though nuggets of comedy stubbornly persists even in those serious beats.
Mr. Ferrell, an effortless master of comedy and proficient in drama, milks the
parody and silliness to astronomical heights but mostly settles into a comfort
zone and credibility as a renewed Armando. Mr. Ferrell's strengths are his
unselfconsciousness on screen, but he is every bit aware of the foolishness of
this film and his Gringo-as-Mexican character, and he slyly hams it up, to fine
effect. It's hard not to laugh at and with him.
With the changing face of America becoming Latino, Mr. Ferrell uses "Casa" to
instinctively transition to that very near future by trying to assimilate
himself. In a day not too long past, a satire like this and the efforts of
a white actor in a Mexican or Latin American role might have been frowned upon
by some, but Mr. Ferrell is totally likable and fluent in Spanish here, and it's
hard to deny his efforts to speak the language properly.
All the actors do well, with Ms. Rodriguez -- the movie poster "introduces" her
but she was in this year's very poor "Man On A Ledge" -- essentially playing
straight woman to the comic blunders on display. Her Sonia is a throwback
to those comedic ladies way back when who were always above the fray amidst the
male goof-balling madness, keeping cool, calm, wise and remaining appealing
throughout. Ms. Rodriguez, alluring, beautiful and smart, engineers a
cleverness that adds to the film's cute charms and comedy.
Lean and lithe, "Casa De Mi Padre", with some truly great nuggets of social
commentary wrapped in humor during one funny sequence, is a film that represents
a new threshold for Will Ferrell's fan base. Mr. Piedmont's film is a
Saturday Night Live sketch that sustains its sharpness and freshness, longer
perhaps than it has any right to. It's undeniable, winning, laugh-a-minute
fun, as are the end credits.
With: Nick Offerman, Efren Ramirez, Adrian Martinez.
"Casa De Mi Padre" is rated R by the Motion Picture
Association Of America for bloody violence,
language, some sexual
content and drug use. The
film's running time is one hour and 24 minutes.
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