SXSW Review: Casa de Mi Padre


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Much like Jack Black, Will Ferrell is mostly known for the types of outrageous films where he plays just as equally outrageous characters. Some of these films, like Anchorman, are practically instant classics full of memorable quotes and hilarious scenes. Others, like Talladega Nights, are just absolutely terrible. In the latest line of films where Ferrell plays a gimmicky character is Casa de Mi Padre.

Where exactly does it fit in the rest of his filmography? Read on and find out.

Casa de Mi Padre
Director: Matt Piedmont
Rating: R
Release Date: March 16th, 2012

Casa de Mi Padre is a satirical take on the telenovela where a Mexican rancher, Armando (Will Ferrell) is embroiled in a struggle involving family, love, and drugs. His brother, Raul (Diego Luna) is a financial businessman that returns to the family’s ranch owned by their father (Pedro Armendariz, Jr.) with his fiancee, Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez). Armando is the black sheep of the family, so to speak, as he is more interested in nature and love rather than business and “masculine” things. However, when it turns out that Raul’s business is actually revealed to be involved with drugs, their lives are put in danger as the local drug lord, Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal), is not ready to lose his turf to Raul.

The main draw with Casa de Mi Padre is the fact that 99% of the film is spoken completely in Spanish, with the main gimmick surrounding Ferrell’s performance. His Spanish delivery is equatable to high school Spanish. That’s not to say it’s bad, but rather, writer Andrew Steele and director Matt Piedmont wanted the translation to be as loose as possible to accentuate the comedy. I’m not the biggest fan of Ferrell, but this performance ranks in maybe the Top 10 of his performances.

However, that’s not to say Casa de Mi Padre is a sure hit. When the film is funny, it’s absolutely hysterical. There’s a bit of a running gag where Armando and his two friends, Esteban (Efren Ramirez) and Manuel (Adrian Martinez), will crack a joke, laugh softly, but extend the laugh longer than necessary. For some reason, the subtle laughter cracked me up every time it happened. It’s the type of borderline “stupid” comedy that Ferrell is known for, but legitimately funny. The problem, though, is that there are long lapses of funny scenes through the film. Again, when they’re on point, it’s great, but you’ll find yourself waiting for that next hilarious scene… which might keep you waiting longer than you’d want to. 

There are other little gags thrown in, like animatronic puppets, low budget film splices, and a few “music videos” that fit the telenovela theme. They’re cute. The performances aren’t gonna blow you away. The fact that Ferrell had to perform in Spanish actually helps “confine” his typical outrageous way of acting. It essentially anchors him down. Nick Offerman, who plays a minor role as an American DEA agent investigating the drug business in Mexico, is a great, though admittedly underused, character in the film. I wished they utilized him more, but I understand that that would have taken too much away from the rest of the primary cast.

Casa de Mi Padre fits in somewhere between Anchorman and Talladega Nights in terms of Ferrell’s filmography; it’s nowhere near as funny as Anchorman, but it’s definitely a lot better than Talladega Nights. It’ll prove to be a fun, light comedy that most comedy fans will enjoy… just don’t expect anything too surprising or beyond the typical comedic formula. Simply enjoy the gimmick for what it is.