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Casa de mi Padre


Stars: Will Ferrell, Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Pedro Armendariz Jr, Nick Offerman, Genesis Rodriguez, Efren Ramirez, Adrian Martinez

Director: Matt Piedmont

Rather too many film critics assume subtitled movies are an art form and therefore patently superior to mere English (or American) language films. Perhaps Will Ferrell was secretly seeking critical significance by making this seriously strange comedy Western in Spanish which, to give him credit, he appears to speak well enough?

Actually, it’s highly unlikely (to say the least) that Ferrell or his ‘Saturday Night Live’ collaborators, director Matt Piedmont and screenwriter Andrew Steele, ever intended Casa de Mi Padre to be an art movie.

Far from it.

This scabrous and scatological spoof of Spanish-language south of the border telenovelas and Mexican Westerns is obviously intended to be lewd, crude and splendidly silly and it succeeds splendidly. I found its high spirits and low intentions disgracefully funny which no doubt says as much about me as about the film.

Ferrell clearly enjoys himself playing the less-than-bright son of Mexican rancher Pedro Armendáriz Jr who despises him and prefers his other son Diego Luna whom he calls “The one with brains”. The plot thickens when it transpires that Luna, who arrives at the family ranch with his sizzling fiancee Genesis Rodriguez, has become criminally and now dangerously involved with vicious druglord Gael Garcia Bernal. In the end, it is up to Ferrell, who falls for Rodriguez, to save the day and the ranch, finally riding into battle wearing white and shooting his repeating rifle in the finest John Wayne tradition…

An infectiously enjoyable low tone is maintained throughout including a daffy mutual buttock stroking sex scene between Ferrell and Rodriguez, an even more loony sequence that involves “live coyotes, two Bengal tigers and one lion”, the latter turning out to be patently fake but still stealing the screen in a weird surreal sequence.

Obviously phony scenery adds to a ranch-load of loony humour put over with unfortunately infectious cynicism and misplaced enthusiasm by all concerned in a coarse comedy put across in the worst possible taste as demonstrated by the narrator who attempts to dilute the on-screen slaughter by telling us “It’s just Mexicans killing Mexicans”.

What you get (with added filth and bad language) is an updated, unashamed and dirtier – much, much dirtier – riff on Carry on Cowboy, complete with bullets, blood and sex. Topped with with (possibly), Ferrell as Gaucho Marx?

Alan Frank

USA/Mexico 2011. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour by deluxe.
84 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 05 Jun 2012