Will Farrell goes to Mexico, fights drug barons, speaks spanish, sings by a campfire and gets into gun fights. It’s a silly (and funny) enough concept as it is, but he and his team put together a movie that mocks the low production values of the genre, and then take some extreme liberties by moving the film occasionally into the surreal.
It’s a high risk comedy. If it connects, you’ll likely find it hysterical. If you don’t, you’ll likely think it’s a travesty.
One thing is for sure though… Will Ferrell haters need not apply.
Casa de mi Padre is a spoof of Mexican Westerns… it’s the story of a struggle between a family of Mexican landowners and a local drug baron, overdramatized, telenovella style. Ferrell must help his brother fend off a drug cartel after his brother steals a local drug baron’s woman. Ferrell falls for her, himself (Genesis Rodriguez), so there’s tons of longing looks played up for laughs. There are lots of overly dramatic zoom-ins to closeups when two people are confronting each other. Throughout, the mexican music blares and the dialogue is as big as it comes.
It also “sends up” the production values of said films. Think the “Grindhouse” aesthetic, except played for laughs even more than “Grindhouse” did. There were plenty of horrible edits, blatant projection screens, obviously painted backdrops, and mannequins used in several instances to fill seats in a crowd. Music tracks will cut off suddenly. There was one scene where instead of a shot of a their truck pulling into town, it was a model town, with matchboxes lining the streets. In several instances, obviously stuffed or animatronic animals were used instead of real ones, including a white mountain lion that plays a key role.
But the movie also – and I’m not even sure this was inherent in the genre they’re spoofing - but the movie switches gears into the bizarre a few times, with a musical interlude, a trippy Andy Warhol-esque dream sequence, and a message scroll from the directors right in the middle of the film.
Much of your enjoyment of the movie will directly correlate to how much you enjoy seeing Will Ferrell keep a super-serious face in the midst of saying something ridiculous. Unfortunately, though, I think the phrase “Lost in Translation” comes into play here. I’m no hater of subtitles (although everyone knows I don’t seek out many foreign films). When I do watch subtitled movies, I think they’re fine. But it occurred to me on the way out… this is the first subtitled comedy I’ve ever seen in my life. And there is a bit of a disconnect that occurs between hearing the lines and reading the lines. The latter is simply not as funny. It’s a mild difference, but it’s important to note. Even if you don’t mind subtitles, I think some of the comedy gets lost in the timing.
I enjoyed it though. I’m a Will Ferrell fan, and I found it silly, and funny, and I laughed quite a bit, a couple of times really loudly. I can’t call it his best work, I don’t think its equal to “Anchorman” or “Talladega Nights”, but I did enjoy it, and I realize that a lot of times these stupid/silly comedies actually appreciate on repeat viewings. The only thing that would really prevent that I can see is that it’s not going to be a very quotable movie for those of us who only “Speak American”.
Fans of Will Ferrell have a decent shot of really enjoying this movie. All others, move along, there’s nothing for you to see here.