Casa De Mi Padre
Directed by Matt Piedmont. Starring Will Ferrell, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, Génesis Rodríguez, Pedro Armendáriz Jr, Nick Offerman 16 cert, Cineworld/ ‘Vue, Dublin, 84 min
Will Ferrell is wonderfully deadpan in this barn-door-broad spoof of simmering Spanish-language soap operas, writes TARA BRADY
DOES WILL Ferrell’s best deadpan translate easily into other languages? That is the question posed by Casa de Mi Padre, a big-screen step up for Saturday Night Live director Matt Piedmont.
If you’re the sort of person who says things like “Will Ferrell hasn’t been funny since Anchorman except for that one scene in Blades of Glory and the Eva Mendes bits in The Other Guys,” then the answer is ‘no’, obviously. If, however, you’re the kind of movie punter who will stick up their hand for sections of Land of the Lost and most of Stepbrothers, then Casa de Mi Padre offers a seriocomic display worthy of the late Leslie Nielsen.
In this bat-crazy Mexican telenovela, replete with flimsy scenery and fake horses, Ferrell’s stilted Spanish delivery chimes perfectly with the stilted, soapy dialogue. There are shades of King Vidor’s Duel in the Sun when Ferrell’s second sibling farmhand, Armando Álvarez, falls for the bride to be (Génesis Rodríguez) of younger brother Raúl (Diego Luna).
Armando can only be with a woman who loves the land as he does, and Days of Our Lives veteran Rodríguez duly sighs as Armando expresses his enduring admiration for dirt and starry skies. Cleavage heaves. Lips tremble. Hair cascades.
There are hues of Falcon Crest when it transpires that Raúl is in cahoots with local drug baron La Onza – “The Ounce” (Gael García Bernal) – a villain so nefarious he wears a white suit and is frequently surrounded by bikini-clad girls.
Finally, however, the viewer trips in to El Topo territory as a white leopard appears within a comically poor series of edits. Jagged splicing, in keeping with the oeuvre, dogs the picture. Colours are saturated. Special effects are wryly appalling.
Even with the stars of Rudo y Cursi onboard, can Casa possibly stretch the thin central gag (Ha! It’s bad!) out to feature length? Just about. Even at 84 minutes the spaghetti-soap is wildly and absurdly overextended. There’s a tension, too, between Bernal and Luna’s capering and Rodríguez and Ferrell’s properly po-faced telenovela acting.
Laughs, subsequently, are sporadic but there’s plenty of stupid bemusement to go around. We’ll take it.