Casa de Mi Padre (2012)

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It’s good to have films that make things clear at the start of the film.  So, when you hear “if sounds Spanish, man that’s what it is – it’s a Spanish movie,” that’s what you’re going to get.

Casa de Mi Padre is about Mexican rancher Armando Álvarez (Will Ferrell), who works on his father’s ranch, which is under financial difficulties.  Armando’s brother Raúl (Diego Luna) returns one day to introduce his fiancée Sonia (Génesis Rodriguez) to the family, as well as help the ranch from ruin.  However, Armando’s feelings for Sonia and the truth of Raúl’s financial success leads to an all-out war between them and Onza (Gabriel Garcia Bernal), Mexico’s most powerful drug lord.

It’s fair to say that Casa de Mi Padre is obviously not supposed to be taken seriously.  From the patchy camerawork and fake horse rides, it pokes fun at the overly dramatic ‘telenovela’ (Spanish soap opera) style, and it is like the simpleton cousin of grindhouse.  The result is a slightly patchy, sometimes surreal, but altogether a low-budget style production.  Even the co-collaboration of Ferrell and Anchorman writer-director Adam McKay, along with the directorial talents of Saturday Night Live‘s Matt Piedmont, cannot boost the likeability of the feature.

Will Ferrell has had questionable degrees of success, but they tend to peak when he has been poking fun at people. Whether it is as a political figure, anchorman and a fashion icon, he can be hilarious.  In Casa de Mi Padre, you have him as a good-hearted romantic hero with quite good Spanish to boot, effectively hamming up the ‘can’ in ‘Mexican’.  However, it is hard to see when he is actually trying to be an intentionally funny or serious character.

Most of the film’s humour belongs to its supporting stars; established dramatic actors Luna and Bernal, as well as Napoleon Dynamite‘s Efren Ramirez get into the swing of things, indulging in this modern spoof so much that it is hard to keep a straight face during the confrontational scenes.  Director Piedmont recreates the isolated desert – cacti, rocks and mountain lions – really well, encapturing the feel of a Spaghetti Western…without the broody stares and ponchos.

Casa de Mi Padre is a salute to the simple Mexican feature, kinda like what Black Dynamite is for blaxploitation films – lacking in a credible plot and script but thumbs up for its authenticity.  Ultimately, this is not enough comedic merit to fulfil the 85 minutes running time.

DVD Extras include Making of… featurette, ‘Fight for Love’ music video, Trailer, an interview with Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Deleted Scenes and hilarious fake TV ads.

Director: Matt Piedmont
Writer: Andrew Steele
Stars: Will Ferrell, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna
Runtime: 84 min
Country: USA

Film Rating: ★★½☆☆
DVD Rating: ★★★★☆

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