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Casa De Mi Padre Review

Director: Matt Piedmont

Cast: Will Ferrell, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, Pedro Armendáriz Jr, Genesis Rodriguez, Adrian Martinez, Efren Ramirez, Nick Offerman

Running Time: 84 mins

Certificate: 15

Synopsis: The black sheep of the Alvarez family, Armando (Ferrell), is a humble rancher on his father’s (Armendáriz Jr) financially ailing farm, until his brother, Raul (Luna), strolls back into town and promises to settle the family’s debts. All seems to be going smoothly, until Armando begins to fall for his brother’s lady, Sonia (Rodriguez), the truth about his brother’s shady business is revealed, and the siblings manage to initiate a war with the infamous drug lord, Onza (Bernal). Armando soon realises he must find the strength he needs to protect those he loves.

Ferrell and his eclectic mix of colleagues from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and FUNNY OR DIE have collaborated on this melodramatic spoof of Spanish-telenovela-style serial dramas. Ferrell fills the boots of Armando; a simple chap with a heart of gold, who has worked on his father’s ranch his whole life. With no real ambition to answer the hero’s call, he is quite happy to spend his time befriending cows, and singing with his human friends, Manuel (Martinez) and Esteban (Ramirez). However, this soon changes when he witnesses an execution at the hands of high-stakes drug baron, Onza.

Andrew Steele, who wrote the screenplay, and Piedmont, have worked together with Ferrell in the past, and their – already established – chemistry is easily discernible. The diverse array of gags come thick and fast for a time, but they do seem to die out towards the final third of the film, where the plot begins to take precedence over the comedy. The main humour derives from visual gags which satirize the telenovela genre, as well as the ridiculously caricatured roles. This is occasionally interspersed with musical interludes, including an amusing mariachi-style performance from Ferrell, Martinez and Ramirez, of the song ‘Yo No Se’ (‘I Don’t Know’).

Whilst it is refreshing to see Ferrell and Bernal out of their usual comfort zones – Ferrell had just one month to learn to speak Spanish and Bernal is best known for his rousing dramatic performances – the plot is decidedly thin, and even borrows from Ferrell’s previous efforts. His character, and his relationship with his father (portrayed by the late Armendáriz Jr) are strikingly similar to the tropes employed in ELF. He is inept at almost everything, he is a fish out of water, and he desperately seeks his stern father’s approval. Armando also goes on a surreal trip with the beautiful Sonia at one point; this unlikely-partnership scenario, whilst mirthful, does closely resemble the structure and themes of Ferrell and Christina Applegate’s jaunt to Pleasure Town in ANCHORMAN.

CASA DE MI PADRE has done extremely well utilising a relatively small budget (an estimated $6 million), and has nailed the casting with thoughtful precision. All of the performances are worthy of note, but especially Ferrell, Armendáriz Jr, and Bernal’s. Ferrell does what he does best in a new and vibrant setting, Armendáriz Jr purports hilariously black humour, especially when belittling Armando, and Garcia is just eccentricity personified. His quirky demeanour and intense riffing with the other characters are genuinely pleasing at times. The only aspects of the film to let it down are the hackneyed and predictable plot, as well as the running time. Despite its relatively short duration, there remains an inescapable feeling that much of the fat could have been trimmed without having a detrimental effect.

 CASA DE MI PADRE is released in UK theatres on 8th June.

Martin has been a film buff (or geek, if you prefer) for as long as he can remember. However, he lives and longs for storytelling of all kinds, and writes across numerous mediums to feed his insatiable appetite. He lives in north-west London, and his favourite films are, possibly: PAN'S LABYRINTH, THEY LIVE, PSYCHO, HIGH FIDELITY, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, STAND BY ME, SIDEWAYS and OFFICE SPACE.

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