‘Casa de mi Padre’: No mas

March 14, 2012


I’ll give Will Ferrell credit for this: There aren’t many actors who would make an entire comedy in a foreign language just as a joke.

Now – if only the joke itself were funny…

The movie in question is “Casa de mi Padre,” which feels like a spoof of a telenovela. It is, in fact, a deliberately cheesy movie. But the laughs are missing in action.

Ferrell plays Armando Alvarez, the less-favored son of a wealthy Mexican rancher (Pedro Armedariz Jr.) but the one who keeps the place running (while his older brother is off being a playboy somewhere). When the ranch is threatened with takeover by a vicious druglord called Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal), it’s up to Armando and his brother, Raul (Diego Luna), to save it. But Armando must also deal with his feelings for his brother’s new wife, Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez).

Just one problem: Writer Andrew Steele and director Matt Piedmont apparently think that every idea that Ferrell has – including speaking Spanish with lip-smacking hamminess – is funny.

Wrong.

Ferrell is an actor with a lot of ideas and a posse of collaborators who are too lazy to flesh them out. It’s the sketch-comedy mentality: Find a single joke, riff on it for a while, then move on. But Ferrell is rarely an inspired improviser; neither are his partners in crime here.

As a result, “Casa de mi Padre” is flatter than a tortilla and just as bland. Inside jokes – like the use of stuffed (and talking) animals, or obvious continuity mistakes – generally are DOA, inspiring at best a smile and a “That’s a cute idea” nod. But there’s nary a big laugh to be had in this whole sloppy enterprise.

It’s not that the gags were lost in the translation of “Casa de mi Padre.” They were never there to begin with.

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