Let's keep the review short, if only because the movie should be and isn't. Really, Casa de mi Padre is a skit blown up to a feature flick, amusing for a while until its welcome wears out. This should come as no surprise, since the principals – star Will Ferrell, director Matt Piedmont, writer Andrew Steele – are all alumni of Saturday Night Live. On the evidence here, the boys miss the old haunt and wish they were back.
As with any skit, the premise is simple. Stick Ferrell on a horse, cast him as a Mexican, make him speak Spanish, and then crank up the parody – in this case, mocking the Rodriguez/Tarantino Grindhouse genre, which, of course, is itself a wink-and-a-nudge take on the real pulp deal. Do the math, subtraction obviously, and the bottom line isn't hard to compute: The pic is poking fun at stuff that is poking fun at stuff that began as cheap fun. By now, that's a lot of poking for a little fun.
So there's stone-faced Will, wearing a sombrero and butchering his vowels and playing Armando, the big hearted/small brained son of a wealthy landowner.
His flashy brother Raul is Daddy's favourite, although Raul's hot girlfriend, Sonia, is everybody's favourite. Including Armando who, heretofore, seems to have reserved the bulk of that big heart for his bovine friends.
Plot? Turns out Raul has made his pesos dealing drugs and has run afoul of the cartel's overlord – that would be the guy smoking ultra-slims in his ice-cream suit. Those pals, Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal, take on the big brother and mean overlord roles. I'd tell you who plays whom, but it hardly matters – no doubt they tossed a coin.
Naturally, in the land of parody, deliberately bad acting is the order of the day, and everyone in this ensemble stoops to the task admirably. Better still is the deliberately bad directing – the establishing shot held until the establishment freezes over; the clunky rear projection run through the back window of a pick-up truck; the wooden horses, the plastic cows, the ferocious cougar immobilized like the plush toy it is; and, my favourite, the shot through the mirrored sunglasses that, oops, reflects the crew gathered on the set.
I laughed at that. I even laughed a few more times, easily enough to accommodate, say, a 20-minute movie. Discount the ticket price proportionately, and Casa de mi Padre could've been a bargain and a treat, if only those SNL grads had done what I'm about to do. Full stop, the end.
Casa de mi Padre
- Directed by Matt Piedmont
- Written by Andrew Steele
- Starring Will Ferrell, Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal
- Classification: 14A
- 2 stars