After years of insulting viewers en masse with his outrageously obtuse form of unfunny comedy, Will Ferrell has at long last found something he is good at: speaking broken, phonetic Spanish. And he does so in a seemingly effortless manner in Casa de Mi Padre: a send-up of those peculiar peliculas and telenovelas from our brethren south of the border that joins Will with his semi-regular collaborators Adam McKay, Andrew Steele, and Matt Piedmont — a film that is spoken almost completely in Spanish.
The story here focuses on a dimwitted rancher named Armando (Ferrell, complete with died hair and eyebrows), whose simple, content existence is threatened when his much-smarter brother Raul (Diego Luna) returns home. Not only has Raul brought home a beautiful fiancée (Genesis Rodriguez) with him, but he is also a rising drug dealer whose arrival raises the attention of local, vicious drug lord, Onza (Gael García Bernal). The late great Pedro Armendáriz Jr. (in one of his final roles) co-stars as Ferrell’s father, and Efren Ramirez and Adrian Martinez make a fine duo as Will’s ranch-hand sidekicks.
Needless to say, anyone who has ever seen a Mexican western or television soap opera knows all about the weird quirks these two different surreal and often-hilarious genres usually sport. Awkward moments wherein the camera lingers on the performers for far too long. Blatantly obvious location-to-poorly-assembled-set transitions. Interactions with people who are clearly not in the same room. Out of place musical interludes. Continuity flaws, phony animals, bad editing, shoddy models — yeah, you get the idea. All these fine z-grade movie elements have always deserved parodying, and Ferrell and his cohorts intentionally bring them into the fray for a cheap laugh.
Sadly, though, Case de Mi Padre is nothing more than that: a cheap laugh.
Like many of the jokes in Will Ferrell’s movies, the single gag presented here is stretched out to the point where it no longer becomes as singularly-chuckle-worthy as it was during the first ten minutes. Ironically enough, Casa de Mi Padre completely failed to capture the Funny or Die audience that it was created for, as most of the people who were so adamant to see it either didn’t notice the jokes, or simply weren’t aware they were supposed to be funny (or they just couldn’t cope with the fact that the whole movie was spoken in Spanish) — something I myself frequently encounter with Will Ferrell movies.
Granted, I did find what was supposed to be funny here this time ’round — I just didn’t find it as funny as the filmmakers obviously did. A good sight gag mixed with some subtlety goes a lot further than taking the same dumb dialogue we all shook our heads over in The Other Guys and Step Brothers (et al) and translating it into Spanish. And then, just when you think you’ve dodged the Molly Shannon bullet, Molly Shannon makes a cameo appearance. Christina Aguilera sings the opening theme song (set to the mondo-style credits), Dan Haggerty appears as himself in a post-credit faux-commercial, and Kris Kristofferson opens the movie with a little narrative play on “Me and Bobby McGee.”
Lionsgate brings us this Spanish-language turkey to Blu-ray in a High-Def transfer that brings out the best that this oft-intentionally crappy-looking title has to offer, with a Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that ultimately has more to offer than the film itself. For those of you who just don’t get the movie, there’s an audio commentary housed on the disc with Ferrell, Steele, and Piedmont wherein they reveal what they threw in that made them laugh so much. Additional bonus materials include several deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, a music video performed by Ferrell (¡ay, caramba!) and Genesis Rodriguez, several more faux-commercials, and one of the last interviews with Senor Armendáriz.