Casa de mi Padre (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Casa de mi Padre (2012)

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The camera sits on three actors, and they laugh at a cheesy piffle of a punchline. And they keep laughing, but the camera doesn't cut away. Their laughter dies out. The actors on the screen start laughing again, like they found their humors renewed upon further reflection. Their chuckling dies out again, bit by bit.

That joke I described for the first paragraph of this review is an old one, especially when you run into movies that decide to prey upon audience patience as an attempt to wrangle humor from nothing more than the absence of humor. Casa de mi Padre not only finds that old chestnut of the too-long-laugh irresistible twice, but also a perfectly good way to actually kick off the film.

And that is why I'm here, now, drinking, staring at my computer monitor. Casa occupies a nebulous territory in my heart-- yet another film billed as a comedy that barely aroused a solitary smile from me.

hahahaha let us sit here and laugh for another five minutes

And smiling and enjoying myself and laughing aren't things I demand outright from comedies-- I can try and find other things when necessary that can at least make the experience feel rewarding (and here's my random Jack and Jill callback for the week)-- but it would be nice to go to the theater and encounter gaiety and mirth and joy and some consolation that my precious time spent on this earth is being justly rewarded by my own willful actions.

Look, maybe I've made some mistakes in life. I've zigged when I should have zagged, drank would I should have sobered up, worked at Barnes & Noble for two years when I should have done something other than... well, that. Whatever, I'm past that now. I'm a blogger, dammit, with all of the privilege and prestige that brings to a person. I will carry on with this review like the semi-professional I sometimes claim to be at really boring cocktail parties where I don't care what anyone actually thinks of me.

Casa is about one brother named Armando (Will Ferrell) and another brother Raul (Diego Luna) who are brothers. Armando is that Will Ferrell character who's a grown up baby, only with an impeccable layer of Spanish that doesn't do much to soften the blow. Raul is running drugs, which he feels no shame in doing, and preparing to marry Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez).

Armando objects to both, one because of honor, the other because he wants to bone her. I won't tell you which is which to leave a modicum of surprise for you if you do decide to jaunt down to the theater. The two brothers run up against a crazed drug dealer named Onza (Gabriel Garcia Marquez-- wait, shit, I mean Gael Garcia Bernal), and, because this is a comedy made in the '10s, it ends in an extremely violent bloodbath.


As a spoof of low budget movies along the lines of Grindhouse, Hobo With a Shotgun and Black Dynamite, Casa de mi Padre heads in the same direction, but kind of wanders off along the way. Most of the jokes regard the film's supposed cheapness and are of the 'blink and you'll miss it variety'. Well, maybe I should clarify-- they're of the 'blink a couple of times, because you're not entirely sure that they're seriously trying to sell that as a joke.'

I knew the film was doomed once I saw the leopard puppet. It's built out of an array of animatronics, which is too high budget for anything as low budget as this is pretending to be. It's an attempt to make something look cheap with a lot of money, which is about as puzzling as the rest of this mess.

Speaking of, the film is entirely in Spanish but made by Americans, which adds a level of cultural imperialism that's hard to shrug off through the belabored emphasizing on US/Mexico relations throughout the film. Will Ferrell plays a Mexican in a movie that mostly pokes fun at Pan American policy-- and if you think this is a great idea, let's petition Jason Bateman to put on blackface to protest racism, that's the only logical next step.

We are totally Mexicans in what is totally a Mexican film. How Mexi-un-can-ny!

In terms of the filmmaking itself, Casa is draped in religious imagery and has some really lovely shots every so often. Like a lot of the movie, you get the feeling the director is more earnest than the material, sneaking a couple of lovely shots and homages. A few members of the supporting cast even makes it out okay-- Bernal certainly seems to be having a blast-- but most of these characters have had their lines cut so that Ferrell can do what amounts to a Spanish speaking George W. Bush impression, and I don't even think Ferrell himself realized just how deep that particular rabbit hole went.

I staggered out of Casa with the film evaporating from my mind. Maybe I'm just not feeling very charitable today, but for some reason the $8 price for this matinee for this really got to me. It's not terrible, just blase. Competently made-- too competently made-- and unfunny-- way, way too unfunny--  Casa de mi Padre, at worst, made me regret being alive for 88 minutes. If you ever need that feeling, well, here you go.

P.S. -- In case you read through the review and were aching to know what actually managed a smile from me, I did get a kick out of the mannequin who made a couple of appearances at family events throughout the film. I don't mean this as a direct criticism of the film, but I did end up spending most scenes just looking for the mannequin.

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Posted by Danny

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