Eye For Film >> Movies >> Casa De Mi Padre (2012) Film Review
Meet Armando (Will Ferrell). He's an honest, hardworking, salt-of-the-Earth type, a loyal ranch hand in the family business. He's accident prone and not very bright, something of an object of pity, but that doesn't stop him dreaming. When one day his brother Raul brings home beautiful new girlfriend Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez), unexpected passion flares. As if that ween't enough to complicate his simple life, Sonia is the treasured possession of local drug baron Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal) who will stop at nothing to get her back.
Parodic comedy is always very difficult to pull off. It's particularly tricky if your audience is unfamiliar with its original target, and Mexican grindhouse films are sadly outside the experience of most mainstream film fans. On top of this, Casa De Mi Padre is in Spanish - it's a bold move, but will spoof comedy fans really put up with subtitles? All of this complicates the film's prospects before we even get to the action itself.
Ferrell's limited comedic talents are something of an acquired taste. He's an excellent straight man, a blank-faced object for the comedy of others, but here he has so much screen time that it's difficult to keep that comedy going - he isn't really charismatic enough to hold our attention when others are offscreen. Rodriguez throws herself into the role of sizzling Mexican beauty with wholehearted aplomb but can only do so much to convince us of their vital chemistry by herself. The biggest problem with this comes when Bernal is onscreen. In a perfectly judged turn, he oozes sleazy charisma, from his spotless white suits to his snakeskin boots. The only person here who seems fully confident of what he's doing, he steals every scene he's in, leaving the film precariously unbalanced.
The other big problem is the inescapable political dimension of the film. Anyone who felt uncomfortable about Tarantino's games with grindhouse - throwing big money at the screen to comment on a genre that can be perfectly entertaining in its own right - will feel doubly so here. Casa De Mi Padre may in part be a bold attempt to draw attention to the great actors working south of the US border, but it's tragic that the only way we get to see those actors is with a white man in the lead. The film walks a difficult line between celebrating the genre and mocking it for, essentially, being cash-strapped. There's an aspect of laughing at the supposedly less sophisticated that makes it uncomfortable viewing.
Ultimately, Casa De Mi Padre's biggest problem is that it is dull. There are some beautifully observed moments that will make grindhouse fans laugh out loud, but too much of it is padding. If you do go to watch it, having a few beers beforehand will undoubtedly improve the experience. Alternatively, you could stick with Machete, which, with more Mexican involvement at the creative level, does this sort of thing a great deal better.Reviewed on: 08 Jun 2012