Will Ferrell Experiments with Surreal ‘Casa de mi Padre’

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HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Will Ferrell can never be accused of sitting on his comic laurels, nor repeating himself. “Casa de mi Padre” is a complete set-in-Mexico Spanish language film, including Ferrell’s dialogue. Although uneven, it delivers such a peculiar vibe that it can’t help but be admired, at least for the effort.

Essentially a Mexican film satire of the 1960s and ‘70s – think late night on a Spanish language TV station – it exposes the filmmakers particular obsession with the narrow genre, but it’s such a noble endeavor and delivers enough freakish laughs to be interesting, if not downright intriguing. Everything that is loved and made fun of in those old Mexican films are honored, most especially the difficulties in story continuity that those guerrilla filmmakers of the era seemed never to get right. What took them five crew members and an editing bay, took “Casa de mi Padre” a huge movie star and a 15 minute credit roll to recreate.

Will Ferrell is Armando, the son of his father (Pedro Armendáriz Jr.), who lives in the titular house. His revelry for the land and his father’s pastures is interrupted by the return of the prodigal son, his brother Raul (Diego Luna). There is something suspicious about his sibling, but nothing wrong with Raul’s beautiful fiance Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez), who forms an instant mutual admiration with Armando.

Power Couple: Genesis Rodriguez (Sonia) and Will Ferrell (Armando) in ‘Casa de mi Padre’
Power Couple: Genesis Rodriguez (Sonia) and Will Ferrell (Armando) in ‘Casa de mi Padre’
Photo credit: John Estes for Pantelion Films

The impression regarding Raul turns to darkness, as it is revealed that he is associated with a drug lord named Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal), who is being pursued by DEA officials led by Agent Parker (Nick Offerman). This distresses Armando, but when he interrupts the wedding rehearsal dinner with his suspicions, he is banished from Sonia and Raul’s nuptials by his father. Onza uses that ceremony to exact his revenge, and Armando is called back to the Casa to try and fix the very difficult dilemma.

That’s right, the description takes the position that this film was done in earnest, much like the funky Mexican films that were re-dubbed and ended up on “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” The effort that director Matt Piedmont put into creating the same film sensation that those earlier works without trying was massively creative, but it might be too narrow. Will enough of the audience get the joke? Needless to say, the film probably wouldn’t have been made if not for the participation of Ferrell.

And what about the almighty WF? He is definitely entering a new phase of his career, characterized by serious turns (last year’s “Everything Must Go”), his support of the unknown (“Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie”) and this virtuous experiment. The role maintains its humor mostly because “Will Ferrell speaks Spanish,” albeit with his accent throughout. There is a half expectation that this will be dropped after awhile into the film, but if anything the fact that it didn’t happen made it all the more palatable. He does go into “Will Ferrell Land” in a memorable love-making scene, but it works in the context of the film, if anything can be taken into that context.

The supporting cast, mostly Mexican, are paying tribute to a long heritage of bad Mexican cinema, which had to be fun. Genesis Rodriguez was a find, breaking out a couple years ago from Mexican soap operas to character roles in the recent “Man on a Ledge” and this surreal turn. She’s able to stand up against Ferrell, no small feat. Gael Garcia Bernal (“The Motorcycle Diaries”) was relishing every second of playing a comic villain, and used props as the main laugh inducers, including an obsession with smoking “Tijuana Smalls” and using anachronistic telephones…er..teléfonos.

teléfono: Gael Garcia Bernal (Onza) in ‘Casa de mi Padre’
teléfono: Gael Garcia Bernal (Onza) in ‘Casa de mi Padre’
Photo credit: John Estes for Pantelion Films

There is a musical interlude, talking animals, pigeon Spanish (hilariously rendered by Nick Offerman), a groovy drug trip and freaky jump cuts. Those with just a passing interest in movies might be confused by some of the incongruous inserts, but often in low budget films the continuity problems were taken care of later – who cares if it doesn’t match! “Casa de mi Padre” has a grand old time with that joke.

This is a fairly uneven and irregular film. It’s just best to go with the flow and enjoy scenes like a bullet riddled wedding aftermath, with a extra calmly sipping champagne, blissfully (but intentionally) unaware he’s “en escena.” Esta película es un viaje extraño y diverto, at least that’s what the translator says.

“Casa de mi Padre” opens everywhere on March 16th. Featuring Will Ferrell, Gael Garcia Bernal, Genesis Rodriguez, Diego Luna, Nick Offerman and Pedro Armendáriz Jr. Screenplay by Andrew Steele. Directed by Matt Piedmont. Rated “R”

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Senior Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2012 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

Manny be down's picture

Casa

Even tho I like Will Ferrel I can not say I enjoy this movie!!!

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