This film is baffling by its very existence, it’s almost like a late night drinking session with Will Ferrell and his frequent collaborator Adam McKay and some of their Funny or Die cohorts ended up getting way out of hand. You can just imagine the conversation along the lines of “Wouldn’t it be funny if we ended up making a whole movie in Spanish based on Mexican melodrama’s that were on TV when we were kids”, phone calls were made, more drinks were consumed and before they knew it this film had financing for a full length feature instead of the five-minute skit we initially thought the trailer was. To be fair Casa di me Padre isn’t bad, it’s no way near the worst comedy released this year it’s just more miss than hit and has a confused tone that leaves a less than memorable film in its wake.
The plot concerns a simple ranch hand by the name of Armando (Will Ferrell) who lives with his rich father in the shadow of his more successful brother Raul (Diego Luna). One day Raul comes home with his beautiful new bride Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez) and Armando is instantly smitten whilst his father again heaps praise on Raul despite it being obvious that he has made a fortune in the drug trade. Armando goes about his life ignoring his feelings for Sonia until rival drug dealer Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal) enters into their lives trying to get rid of the competition. Armando has to step up and do the right thing amidst lots of fake horses, his inability to roll a cigarette and a strange trip involving a white tiger.
Probably because of the fact that the film is entirely in Spanish aside from an intro and a pause half way through, the film has to rely on the visual gag rather than witty dialogue which puts it square in Mel Brooks’s courtyard whilst also reminding you of the Austin Powers films. Apart from a couple of laugh out loud moments most of the humour here comes from the poor production value spoofing productions of old when blatantly fake horses are spotted in the frame or a stunt double is obviously in place of one of the actors. Sadly a lot of these gags will cause you to roll your eyes rather than guffaw popcorn all over your living room floor. It’s been done before many many times and feels stale at this point.
Further complicating matters is the tone of the film. Clearly Ferrell, Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal are having a lot of fun even whilst keeping a straight face and whereas this should have been infectious, the strong violence and really well shot massacre and gunfight along with a mind bending trip half way through make you think that maybe they wish they were working with Robert Rodriguez on the next Machete flick.
If you grew up on the work of the Zucker Brothers and Mel Brooks and miss the heyday of the Wayans brothers then this might fill the hole in your viewing schedule. For everyone else it’s something of a curiosity that will just about do until the next proper McKay/Ferrell collaboration comes along.