CASA DE MI PADRE
**1/2 (out of 5)
March 16, 2012
Will Ferrell as ARMANDO
Diego Luna as RAUL
Pedro Armendáriz Jr. as MIGUEL ERNESTO
Genesis Rodriguez as SONIA
Efren Ramirez as ESTEBAN
Adrian Martinez as MANUEL
Gael García Bernal as ONZA
Directed by: Matt Piedmont
BY KEVIN CARR
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“Casa De Mi Padre” is one of those films that I respected and understood more than I actually enjoyed. After all, I have to applaud any group of filmmakers that get funded to do an untested foreign language property that amounts to nothing more than a screwball comedy.
After the recent grindhouse revival with such films like “Death Proof,” “Planet Terror,” “Machete” and “Hobo with a Shotgun,” things seemed ripe for a film like “Casa De Mi Padre.” Sure, these movies haven’t made a whole lot of money in the long run, but when made for a modest budget, they can turn a profit and be a lot of fun.
Instead of going after the gritty and gory violence we saw in these aforementioned grindhouse films, “Casa De Mi Padre” targets a different genre, the Mexploitation western. Will Ferrell stars as Armando, a Mexican rancher who has always been seen as a lesser son by his father. One day, Armando’s brother Raul (Diego Luna) comes home with his beautiful fiancée Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez), showered by his father’s love. However, Armando soon discovers that his brother is really a drug dealer ready to wage a turf war with the dastardly Onza (Gael García Bernal). He also finds himself falling in love with Sonia.
Told almost entirely in the Spanish language, “Casa De Mi Padre” is an immersive one-note joke that actually works longer than it should. Unfortunately, it doesn’t extend through the entirety of the rather short 84-minute movie. Still, there are some fun beats throughout, sometimes characterized by the telenovella melodrama infused into the plot and sometimes through just standard wacky comedy moments.
The biggest problem with this film doesn’t come where the actors commit so much to the silly premise that it leaks over the line from spoof to homage. It’s also not where the movie gets to the point of feeling like an overblown SNL sketch that should have never been made into a feature film. Instead, the movie makes its greatest failures when it retreads jokes from better films.
A great example of this – and one that occurs within the first five minutes of the film – is an awkward moment when Armando and his ranch hands laugh at a joke, with the laugher petering out to nothingness. This would have been quite funny if it hadn’t been executed better in “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” fifteen years ago.
Still, “Casa De Mi Padre” is an ambitious feature that, when you consider what they were actually doing, is amazing it ever got the green light. It’s worth seeing for no other reason than to see something you’ll likely never see again. But I wouldn’t pay full price to do so.