‘Casa De Mi Padre’: The Reviews Are In!

Critics are divided over Will Ferrell's campy telenovela parody.

At this point in his storied career, Will Ferrell has taught his fans to expect the unexpected. His latest film, “Casa de Mi Padre,” is a perfect example. The outrageous, purposefully campy and telenovela-esque flick is most certainly not a movie for everyone, and critics are divided on whether its ridiculousness is fun or just plain ridiculous; it currently has a 46 percent Fresh rating over at Rotten Tomatoes. Vamanos a las criticas de “Casa de Mi Padre”!

The Premise:
“Will Ferrell, speaking passable Spanish (with English subtitles), plays Armando Alvarez, a Mexican rancher hot for the fiancée (Genesis Rodriguez) of his brother (Diego Luna) and in a death battle with a drug lord (Gael García Bernal). Luckily, Ferrell is at his funniest being serious. ‘Casa de Mi Padre,’ shot in 24 days for $6 million, is really an ‘SNL’-ish sketch stretched to feature length. But Ferrell is an hombre loco. Mi gusta.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

The Mexploitation Factor:
“Is ‘Casa de Mi Padre’ brilliant or pointless? Indubitably it’s both, as Ron Burgundy might put it. It’s a parody of something so specific that it never quite existed in the first place: the Mexican telenovela plus the spaghetti western plus the straight-to-VHS action flicks of the ’70s, maybe. If you fell asleep in the hot-tub time machine and woke up stoned in 1982, this is the movie you’d find yourself watching on some UHF channel (right after the soccer match between Tigres and Toluca). Some of its gags absolutely fall flat — having a climactic action scene replaced with still photos of miniatures is pretty funny, while an on-screen note apologizing for it is not — but considered as a whole it’s a wonderful and hilarious phenomenon, most of it is executed to Dadaist perfection.” — Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com

The Ferrell Factor:
“The folks who dislike Will Ferrell always will. He’s furry. He’s childish. He was kind of creepy in ‘Elf.’ He has this beady-eyed way of puffing his cheeks and fixing his gaze that makes his entire face look like a butt imprinted with raisins. But mostly, the haters hate him because he’s weird. Eccentricity is a tough sell at the movies, with exceptions made, now and then. But as the telenovela parody ‘Casa de Mi Padre’ clearly demonstrates, Ferrell is a surrealist prankster of the most confounding type. If he were more pretentious about it, more stuffily highbrow and art-house-ready, he might be hailed as a shrewd absurdist commentator on the loonier conventions of contemporary film and life. … ['Casa de Mi Padre' is] 84 minutes of maximum Ferrellian oddness. Fans, this one included, will find the loopy, elongated comic rhythms both familiar and hilarious; you can always count on Ferrell to push each joke about 30 seconds past the point of normalcy. And you can always count on him to be weird.” — Amy Biancolli, The San Francisco Chronicle

The Final Word, Pro-Con-Pro Style:
“The biggest joke in ‘Casa de Mi Padre’ is that Mr. Ferrell speaks Spanish without winking throughout the hyperserious proceedings, and as he often does, he turns his character’s innocence into a strange state of grace. The sincerity of his performance makes Armando seem foolish and therefore funnier, at least when he has enough good material. Mr. Bernal and Mr. Luna, by contrast, mostly seem to be having a goof playing cowboys and narcos, and their barely contained smiles, however shining, work against Mr. Ferrell’s commitment and undermine the movie’s poker-faced interests. ‘Casa de Mi Padre’ is best when it stops pretending that anyone, including the filmmakers, cares about the pointless story, which also includes too much unfunny business with a few American lawmen that wastes the mustachioed brilliance of Nick Offerman. Far better are its oases of absurdity, like an increasingly preposterous sex scene featuring the inevitably naked Mr. Ferrell, once again flaunting his furred assets, and a lysergic trip to the other side with a conspicuously ersatz white leopard whose coat is almost as matted.” — Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“The film feels ultimately hollow, perhaps because mocking soap operas is the comic’s equivalent of shooting fish tacos in a barrel. In fact, the concept for ‘Casa de Mi Padre’ seems born out of one too many tequila-infused evenings in the Funny or Die writers’ room — unsurprisingly, director Matt Piedmont and writer Andrew Steele are both Funny or Die and ‘Saturday Night Live’ veterans. The movie has a deliberate cheapness that grows tiring — self-contained ‘outdoor’ sets, sex scenes with mannequin body doubles, and what must be the worst puppet the Jim Henson Workshop has ever built. Its theatrical release feels like a mistake: Surely this belongs online? Or on Comedy Central at 3:00 a.m.?” — Andrew Lapin, NPR

“Ferrell, though, mostly plays it straight (it takes all of 30 seconds to get used to him speaking impeccable Spanish), and so does the movie. And that, in a funny way, is the joke: that Ferrell went this far to do a faux-Mexican genre potboiler with nary a laugh line. Even if you choose to experience ‘Casa de Mi Padre’ as a postmodern wink at the audience, it’s a very abstract wink. Yet if you take the film on its own terms, as a kind of Elvis movie dipped in guacamole, it’s quirkily engrossing. Ferrell is a good straight actor for the same reason that he’s an inspired comedian: He commits himself to every moment. Even in a movie whose highest ambition is to be true to its quaintly delectable tackiness.” — Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Check out everything we’ve got on “Casa de Mi Padre.”

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