Based on the trailers for Casa de mi Padre, you might not know how to categorize the film. Is it a comedy or just Will Ferrell’s attempt to break into the Spanish-speaking film business? It is a comedy and a really good one at that.
Will Ferrell plays Armando Alvarez, one of two sons of a wealthy Mexican rancher. Diego Luna plays his brother Raul, who has taken a different career path into drug dealing. This pits Raul against the local drug lord, Onza, played by Gael Garcia Bernal. In the middle of these three men is Sonia, played by newcomer Genesis Rodriguez. Sonia is the fiancée of Raul and the past complicated love interest of Onza. Basically, everything comes down to a battle over Sonia or drugs. Armando is the all-time good guy of the film, so he is in the middle of everything.
The first few minutes of the Casa de mi Padre set the tone for the rest of the film. Just those brief minutes show the kind of humor you can expect. Will Ferrell bends over to pick up a real cow calf, turns around, and he now holds a fake calf of a completely different color. Cue the opening credits with a theme song by Cristina Aguilera. This is a farce comedy to the highest degree. It makes fun of itself in so many ways, but does not reach the point of ridiculousness.
I assume the film is supposed to be set in the 1980s, based on the technology shown in the film and the way it exudes that era. The shooting techniques remind me of bad films on VHS (and Beta). The gags in Casa de mi Padre do not get old. Fake backgrounds spliced together with real backgrounds in certain scenes, laughter that goes on for more than a couple of minutes, a disclaimer in the middle of the film, actors coming in from the wrong side of a scene, and mannequins in place of real actors are only a few of the many gags that are hilariously used in the film. Will Ferrell’s derriere makes an obligatory appearance as usual. What can I say? Will likes to show his buttocks to the world.
Not all Will Ferrell movies are comedy hits. Some of his films have been lackluster, but I count Elf as one of my favorite films. He has also delved into the non-funny genre of drama and done a great job. In Casa de mi Padre, he is funny and he brought some great actors along for the ride. Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal are not known for their comedy prowess, but they do a great job alongside Will Ferrell. There are a few small parts by other actors like Nick Offerman and Efren Ramirez, and at least one great cameo by Saturday Night Live alum. Those who are familiar with Spanish-speaking actors may recognize more actors than I.
The entire film, save a few lines, is in Spanish. I have no clue how this was accomplished with Will Ferrell. Did he actually learn Spanish or just memorize the lines? I do not think the film would be as funny if it was in English. Those who hate “reading” movies might be turned off by this, but it is worth seeing. Plus, this is not your typical foreign film.
While I can only take so many stupid comedies regardless of who is starring in them, Casa de mi Padre is not a stupid movie. I found it to be hilarious with a unique way of presenting its humor. This is not your “typical” Will Ferrell comedy. The stuffed white tiger who came to me in a psychedelic vision told me so.
I give Casa de mi Padre 4 “Borrachos” out of 5.
P.S. Stay through the credits and wait until after the credits as well.