A five minute Funny Or Die sketch dragged out to 16 times the length, producer/star Will Ferrell’s grueling Casa de mi Padre has exactly one gag. Not since Nacho Libre has the whole “they’re not talking like us!” been stretched so far, or so thin.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but Ferrell’s latest half-kidding romp was filmed entirely in Spanish, with the ultimate doughy white-guy playing the thickheaded son of a proud Mexican cattle baron caught in the crossfire between two dueling cattle barons and druglords.
On one hand, we’ve got chief Y Tu Mama Tambien masturbator Deigo Luna, showing up with baroque costume jewelry and some prime arm candy (the thrillingly named Genesis Rodriguez) attempting to pretend his new trophy wife isn’t the result of adventures in the cocaine trade.
On the other, we’ve got Luna’s Tambien sidekick Gael Garcia Bernal, at least 20 years too young for the role of Uncle Onza—a big-shot narcotics hustler so crooked that he often lights another cigarillo while the last one is still burning. He’s after Luna’s gal, amongst some other blood feuds that lead to a about half a reel’s worth of conflict on the plate of first-time director Matt Piedmont.
With all the shaky zoom-lenses, deliberately cruddy production values and self-consciously melodramatic, heightened dialogue, Casa de mi Padre is purposefully shitty, employing some elbow-to-the-ribs fake backgrounds, wooden prop horses and an aura of smirky incompetence.
Casa de mi Padre aspires to be an awful telenovela—two terms that might not be mutually exclusive—but is there anything else for us to see here? After the initial goof of Ferrell speaking another language and subscribing to moldering cliches, there’s just nothing to laugh at. The movie is deliberately bad on purpose, without anything to show for all its considerable efforts at looking hackneyed as possible.
Yeah, I get that the wobbly camera movements and puppet animals are supposed to look wretched. But I also get that making a bad movie on purpose is still a bad movie. There aren’t really any jokes in Casa de mi Padre , but I guess you can maybe respect it as a weird, audience-punishing prank? Thanks guys, but no mas.
Read our interview with Will Ferrell here.
Ferrell’s epic journey to speak another language has understandably dominated the press on the film, conceived by him but written by Andrew Steele and directed by Matt Piedmont, both Saturday Night Live and Funny or Die vets. Not that he can speak Spanish fluently.
When you’re talking, you’re training your vocal system to be able to be good at the language you’re speaking. Even though I’ve been speaking English since I was 10, I will always have an accent. Everything is shaped differently.