Review: Casa de mi Padre


Imagine if Sergio Leone put Will Ferrell, machine gun battles, and a talking panther in his famous spaghetti westerns. The result would look a lot like director Matt Piedmont’s new film Casa de mi Padre.

This movie crackles with shameless and often uproarious self-awareness. How many other movies can get away with the opening line: “If it sounds Spanish, man, that’s what it is. It’s a Spanish movie.” It’s a Will Ferrell movie, more importantly, and on a budget of about $6 million and a shooting schedule of just twenty-four days, the final product deserves a alternate title, The Good, The Bad, and the Hilarious.

Armando Alvarez (played by Ferrell, who passionately delivers almost all of his lines in Spanish) falls in love with the fiancee (Genesis Rodriguez) of his drug-dealing brother (Diego Luna), and is quickly drawn into the illicit world of a drug warlord (Gael Garcia Bernal). Ferrell plays out his signature man-child role and his tongue-and-cheek, yet genuine, mannerisms will have audiences gasping for air. The film opens with him grabbing a fake sheep and spinning around to face the camera, with Clint Eastwood seriousness, as Christina Aguilera’s title song blared to the rolling credits. Only Ferrell can pull that off.

Not all the jokes work, as the dangerous world of drug conflict occasionally fails to blend with Ferrell’s brand of comedy. In a flashback, a young Armando shoots his mother in a blur of childish confusion. The scene is intended to reveal the early stages of his mental ineptitude, but it feels inconsistent with the movie’s overall tone. Other gags, like Ferrell’s multiple failed attempts to roll a cigarette amount to increasing hilarity. In one scene, Ferrell’s character manages to wrap up tobacco, only for it to steadily spill out after he lights it. He remains oblivious. Later, when an important character bleeds out from a wound, Ferrell gives him a rolled cigarette that looks like a Chinese dragon firework.

Gael Garcia Bernal (of Amores Perros fame), who smokes two cigarettes at once in the movie, clearly enjoyed playing the menacing drug baron. And Genesis Rodriguez, with her Penelope Cruz-like sultriness, adds some Telemundo soap-opera qualities to her romance with Ferrell. They share one of the strangest love scenes in a fireside montage of gluteal groping, replete with varied shots of Ferrell’s hirsute behind.

Casa de mi Padre takes full advantage of its R-rated liberties, giving the audience a barrel of laughs and Will Ferrell’s most surprising role since playing Buddy the Elf. And, lest we forget, it has a talking stuffed-animal panther. It’s like “Narnia’s” Aslan, except on coke.