Over the last ten years, Will Ferrell has cemented himself as a Hollywood powerhouse, producing a slew of wonderfully acted and usually humorous films such as Old School, Stranger Than Fiction, Anchorman, Elf, and Talladega Nights; and now we can add Casa De Mi Padre to the list. Casa De Mi Padre is the newest addition to Ferrell’s comedy empire with the same over the top yet subtle humor we can expect from him, but with one huge twist: it’s entirely in Spanish.
In order to create a film that is mix of spaghetti western, classic telenovela, and comedy, Ferrell reconnected with several old SNL friends, Andrew Steele, the writer, and Matt Piedmont, the director. Together the team decided that the only proper way to make this film both believable and genuine was to film with a mostly Latino cast who would all then speak in Spanish. Ferrell, being the main character, took Spanish lessons for months before production in order to ensure that he maintained the Spanish essence of the film. With help from a stacked cast of Latino favorites such as Diego Luna, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Gael García Bernal and Efren Ramirez, Ferrell was able to create a comedy shot in another language in the US, and make it appealing.
The movie is about the Alvarez family, with Diego Luna as the younger brother, Raul and Will Ferrell as the older sibling, Armando. Armando has lived on his father’s farm working as a rancher for years while his younger brother travels about Mexico and the US. When the farm is being threated, Raul returns to pay off his father’s debt and also brings along heavy baggage, including his fiancé, Sophia, played by newcomer Genesis Rodriguez. Several things point to something being wrong with Raul and Armando is determined to find out what, even at the cost of his father’s admiration and perhaps more.
The plot summary given follows the typical telenovela (Spanish soap opera) structure of cramming as much drama into a story as possible. There is love, lust, incest, drugs, murder, deception, and family conflict strung throughout in order to keep its audience on their toes. Just when it seems things couldn’t get worse, it does. However, this film isn’t purely a drama, and with Ferrell on board we’ve come to expect a good laugh, and he delivers a few. He pays homage to the telenovela drama by conducting his plot around conflict, but then plays up the drama to show how ridiculous things are. The over the topness of the plot, acting and dialogue is what makes the movie. Including a large white panther and quite long, nude butt rubbing scene. Anyway.
The language aspect of the film wasn’t a distraction or problem of any sort either. Marketed as ‘the funniest movie you’ll ever read’ the film is shown with English subtitles in order to compensate for the movie being in Spanish. Some would argue that it is difficult to keep up with the subtle gestures of comedy such as facial expressions and tone when you have to pay attention to subtitles, but this isn’t so with Casa De Mi Padre. After a few minutes of watching, you are quickly able to adapt to the subtitles and won’t miss a beat. I would even argue that the movie is funnier in Spanish as it seems more realistic and thus more ridiculous and comical.
Casa De Mi Padre was an interesting challenge for Ferrell who both thought of the concept and then played the lead character. On paper the idea and the script may have seemed funny, but on screen, not so much. The film had it moments but for the most part the humor fell dry and ended up making the film more of a drama than anything else. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re planning on going to see a comedy, then you may want to try another film instead. The acting is good and the movie is easy to stick with, you definitely feel engrossed, but unless you’re a hardcore Ferrell fan who can’t wait to run out and see this movie, I’d recommend you wait until it’s a rental.