Friday, March 16, 2012

Casa Di Mi Padre Review

“Casa Di Mi Padre” (translated: House of My Father) shows us that Will Ferrell can do a whole comedy movie in Spanish. He’s not just doing a Mexican accent; no he does the entire thing in authentic Spanish, complete with subtitles. Is that a cause for a fiesta? Not really, no. The whole thing is nothing more than a gimmick. He’s still doing his usual Will Ferrell performance, except in Spanish. He even sings a couple times. He’s good at what he does no doubt but that’s all it is.

 He plays Armando, a rancher on his father’s farm in Mexico, who has a reputation for being a coward and must prove himself against some gangsters who threaten his family. The main objective of “Casa” is to make fun of Telanova, a television serial popular in Latin America, and the fact that in its attempts to be dramatic comes off as cheesy to someone like an American.

The movie strives for this cheesiness. Director Matt Piedmont and his writer Andrew Steele beat the living hell out of that half living horse, mainly through the use of persistent close-ups on the characters’ faces, actors’ overdramatic line readings, and poor quality film. Ramsey Nickell’s cinematography is distractingly bright and somewhat blurry (but intentionally so!). All of this is hit and miss, sometimes they keep beating us over the head with certain gags (the constant cigarette smoking) to the point where you kind of want to yell out to the screen: “We get it already!”

The funniest parts of the movie come when Ferrell and crew make fun of the cheapness of Telanova productions. Fake horses and tigers, fake scenery as the characters drive, obvious sets with painted backgrounds, and that’s mainly because they were so random and came out of nowhere. Like during a wedding scene we can see a mannequin in the background, or there’s a zoom-in of a character with sunglasses and we can clearly see the film crew in the reflection.

 Overall, for a movie that’s pretty much one joke stretched out for 86 minutes (thankfully) “Casa” isn’t unbearable. I did laugh. People at the preview screening I attended laughed. But because it’s a spoof there’s nothing at stake. I didn’t care if Armando’s father got killed. I didn’t care if Armando’s brother Raul (Diego Luna) was a drug dealer. In short I didn’t care about any of the plot points or characters.

As strictly just a spoof movie, it’s not the worst but there are plenty better. In order for a spoof movie to work the actors in it have to be oblivious to the jokes, as they were in “Airplane” and “The Naked Gun.” More often than not the actors in “Casa” were in on the jokes, overselling them.

But hey, you still get to see Ferrell speak Spanish. And sing. Did I mention the singing?


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