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Bryan Cranston as Ned and Megan Mullally as Barb in Why Him?

Scott Garfield

2.5 out of 4 stars

Title
Why Him?
Written by
John Hamburg
Directed by
John Hamburg
Starring
James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Zoey Deutch
Classification
14A
Country
USA
Language
English

Bryan Cranston returns to comedy in John Hamburg's uneven but funny enough Why Him?, but it is James Franco who steals the show. Franco is Laird Mayhew, a narcissistic man-child and bro-bazillionaire who is the titular "him" of a Meet the Parents comedy in reverse.

Generations clash awkwardly – Hamburg is a maestro at comic ill-at-ease – when Cranston's fogy of a father meets Laird, a Silicon Valley dynamo who has won the heart of Cranston's daughter and who now looks to lock down the approval of the girl's family. The humour is broad – Laird's Palo Alto estate is a gauche playground of moose testicles and potty humour – but occasionally clever.

Franco's outlandish Laird dude is fascinatingly unfiltered, either when it comes to his non-stop F-bombs or his love-seeking shenanigans. It's all a bit rompy, with a touch of the-world-is-a-changin' commentary.

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One wonders if Hamburg, who has made two Focker-friendly sequels to Meet the Parents, is in a rut. He even attempts to do with the rock band Kiss in Why Him? what he did with Rush in I Love You, Man. Classic rock? The director is showing his age.

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