Casa de mi Padre

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.

B

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19 thoughts on “Casa de mi Padre

  1. This isn’t as bad as Land of the Lost was, is it? I love most of Will’s stuff. Still have to catch up on a few like Talladega Nights and Stranger Than Fiction. But Land of the Lost I couldn’t even finish.

    This will be a wait for a cable for me. I don’t get to go to the movies very often and when I do, it’s usually to go see some animation. The rest, that’s what Red Box and cable are for.

    • Definitely better than Land of the Lost. Although in fairness, Diggs and I like that movie cause it’s so dumb. I may be LotL’s biggest fan, and I don’t even like it that much.

      But yes, way better than that.

      I think the biggest issue is reading the lines as opposed to hearing them. Won’t be an issue I guess if you speak Spanish, but if not, a bit of the comedy gets lost in the timing buddy.

  2. I love it when actors try new things. Will Ferell is the only American actor I can think of now apperaring in a foreign language flick. Jodie Foster had a brief cameo speaking french in “A Very Long Engagement” but that was only six mins I belive

    • It’s true. I think it’s for comedic purposes, but yup. Foreign language film through and though.

      I wonder how his Spanish is… LOL. I mean, for the most part the feel of the flick lends itself to hesitant dialogue, so that may cover up a lot of his shortcomings. Not sure, I guess I’ll keep an eye out around the net and see.

  3. Supposedly out this week on video. Might rent it. As for subtitled comedies not being as funny, you mean you’ve never seen the original “La Cage Aux Folles”? That is subtitled and hysterical.

  4. Well considering that I’m a total Will Farrell mark and two of his films are in my Top 25 of all time (Anchorman and Ricky Bobby) I’m glad to see this getting some positive feedback. I mean I don’t really go into his films expecting Oscar worthy performances, but as long as it’s silly fun I can enjoy it. It’s an interesting concept if nothing else. I just wish it was playing anywhere near where I live. 21 Jump Street and Detachment (which I’ve already seen 5 times now because it’s been On Demand for a while) are the only new films that have come out this week in my neighborhood. I’ll be sure to check it out though.

    • If you like those two that much Travis? You’ll like this. It wont rank up there with them – although, I dont know, I’d be interested to hear your opinion on that, maybe you’ll like it more…

      I laughed though. Ferrell is funny and the movie has tons of goofy shit going on. I had a good time with it.

      But I had to recognize that for a lot of people, this is going to be a swing and a miss.

      • Well it’s supposed to start playing next week according to the theater manager at the place I regularly attend so I’ll be sure to review it when it comes out.

        Yeah it’s funny. I have films like Blade Runner, Se7en, Fight Club, Full Metal Jacket, The Shining, Godfather and many other “great” films in my top list so people always pause when they see Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Anchorman on my list because they stand out compared to a lot of other films. But sometimes a film will resonate with you without you expecting it to.

        I am slightly worried about this being a foreign film (even though I speak fluent Spanish) if for no other reason then why I’m worried whenever I watch subtitled anime. Sometimes it doesn’t connect. But we’ll just have to wait and see.

      • Oh cool, well, if you do see it, be sure to let us know how Will Ferrell’s Spanish is! LOL.

        I thought that was one big issue… and you probably wont have that. I kept thinking, “That would have been so much funnier if I understood it as he said it” Whether that’s true or not, I’m not sure. But I couldnt shake that feeling…

  5. This is a really interesting project from Ferrell. I generally find his work to be funny, to varying degrees I suppose, and I’ll probably check this out at some point. Probably a rental from me, though. Great review, Fogs.

  6. Hurm, not the biggest Ferrel fan, so I’ll probably wait for a rental. Still, good write-up. As for foreign comedies, I don’t think I’ve seen one, but the OSS 117 movies look hilarious, and they’re French.

  7. Great review Dan. I look forward to checking this one out myself actually. As you know, It’s not playing in my area yet…even though Mexico is only 40mins away. go figure. ha.

    Not being too fond of Ferrell’s latest, I’m glad to know this was more like his better films. Hope you’re having a good weekend man.

    • Yeah, T, you too.

      He’s had some misses, that’s for sure. I personally liked this one, but I did think it was kind of dicey as I was watching it as to whether everyone would care for it… even all Ferrell fans.

      Definitely worth a check out though, man. Hope you like it.

      And hey. I cant explain Hollywood release strategies. LOL. Pfffft…

  8. This is a tough one. I can say, “if you liked Superbad, you’ll like 21 Jump Street“, or, “if you liked Wet Hot American Summer you’ll probably like Wanderlust“. That’s because those movies are pretty analogous to one another. But Casa de mi Padre doesn’t really have that; I guess you could say, “if you liked Rubber, you might like Casa de mi Padre“, but they’re only equivalent in that they both take a concept that seems best suited to a short picture and stretch it out to an hour and twenty minutes.

    That said, I really liked this immensely. It’s not as weird as I expected it to be; in fact, it’s weirder, and more awkward, and more random. But it’s also really funny from frame one, though like you say, people who aren’t fond of Ferrell should probably stay away. This is all about capitalizing on the inherent humor of casting Ferrell in the Armando role, and then tailoring that role to suit his style of comedy, while also taking potshots at telenovelas and Latino melodrama in general as well as Sam Peckinpah films.

    It’s also surprisingly grindhouse-ish, and I think in a way that’s more honest than, say, Planet Terror. I don’t know exactly how much that movie cost, but if it took ~60 million to put all of Grindhouse together including Death Proof and the mini-trailers, I have a feeling that Rodriguez put a damn sight more than the paltry 6 million* Piedmont and co. used to fund Casa de mi Padre. I mean, they’re using painted sets in a ton of scenes, along with really badly made animatronic animals. We’re not talking about a film that had far more money pumped into to it just to attain a facsimile of grunginess.

    And yet it looks beautiful too. There’s some good stuff going on here outside of the intentionally low-tech stuff, largely involving the photography used to capture the actual landscapes the film was shot on and not simply the backlot sets.

    • Youre right Andy, there arent many movies out there to compare this one to. It’s a unique film, and should get some credit for that alone.

      It may also have been better suited for say, a series of Funny or Die shorts.

      But they went the full length route with it, and like you, I was entertained. Lots of laughs, lots of chuckles. But its definitely not for people who have a low tolerance for Ferrell.

      As for the production values? I honestly only took notice of them when they were used for comedic purposes. Which was often. Which worked for me, I got a kick out of them :)

      • Oh, I give it plenty of credit. I think it’s a movie that pretty well puts its balls out there for audiences to stomp on, if they so choose. For me, and obviously for you, the cast and crew together embrace the concept and story so thoroughly that everything works. Of course, watching it will still be compressed hell for people who aren’t Ferrell fans, but that’s their own problem.

        I love the shoddy production values. They just add to the film’s satire and bolster its central joke.

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