Movie Review: “Why Him?”
Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston) has a struggling printing company and is taking his wife and son to visit his daughter at college for the holidays. Little do they know, his daughter is dating Laird Mayhew (James Franco) who is immensely wealthy from having created a popular app game. When they meet, Laird makes a very terrible first impression leaving Ned to wonder "Why him?". Laird then makes a deal with Ned stating that by the end of the weekend, Ned will be calling Laird "son".
The Pros & Cons
Cranston & Franco (+10pts)
Comedic Pacing (+6pts)
The Opinion (-3pts)
Keegan-Michael Key (+4pts)
Franco & Deutch (-3pts)
Pro: Cranston & Franco (+10pts)
I thought Cranston and Franco had great chemistry together. They had complimenting comedy styles that worked so well. I think this movie would have been very different without either of these two characters. They are very different characters but as actors they are pretty similar. Both are proven dramatic, and comedic actors. I think that it is that element that allows this pairing to work so well. The characters (as ridiculous as they are) seem believable because of the acting performances, and they are so much fun to watch because of their comedic timing and sensibility. More than anything else, Bryan Cranston and James Franco make this movie worth watching.
Con: Predictable/Story (-5pts)
This movie’s main issue was the story. Right from the first couple scenes, I knew how the plot would go for the entire rest of the movie. I know that this is a comedy and that the focus of the movie is not on plot but, come on, a little surprise would have been nice. After addressing the predictability of the plot, there were comedic moments that were extremely predictable as well. Things that were set up, that left me knowing how they would be brought in later on for comedy. Aside from the predictability, the plot in general was a little weak. I did not feel that invested in whether or not Laird got Ned’s approval, and I did not care when the final “opinion” was made.
Pro: Comedic Pacing (+6pts)
Right from the opening moments of this movie, Why Him? was giving the audience laughs. It hits with chuckles and light laughs as it sets up the movie and introduces the characters, then as the movie starts ramping up, so do the laughs. This was a funny movie, and was paced in a brilliant manner. There were no long durations in which I was not amused, chuckling or laughing. We all know that can be an issue for too many comedies. Why Him? was funny from opening to close. Is it the funniest movie I’ve seen this year (2016)? No, but it was easily one of the more entertaining. Some comedic moments won’t work for everyone, but generally the comedy in this movie works and is paced brilliantly. It doesn’t feel like too much and there are not any lulls that left me bored. Why Him? landed right in the middle.
Con: The Opinion (-3pts)
So this is a point where I will need to be a little vague in order to avoid spoilers. I kind of addressed this in the “Predictable/Story”, the final opinion moment did not really work for me. I first and foremost did not feel very invested in it because the story of this film was lacking. What made it worse was the fact that the final opinion did not feel justified. In other words, I did not think Ned Flemming’s final opinion of Laird Mayhew was supported by the rest of the movie. Up until this point, I believed it entirely, I just did not by the final opinion which was unfortunate. Luckily, as I previously stated, the lacking story made me not really care about the final opinion so this point did not hurt the movie too much. I think that if you look deep enough, you can find what influenced Ned’s final opinion, I just think the movie could have focused on it better. Who knows? Maybe some people found the final opinion to be completely justified, if so, let me know in the comments.
Pro: Keegan-Michael Key (+4pts)
I did not expect to see Keegan-Michael Key in this movie as much as I did. After Bryan Cranston and James Franco, he was easily the best part of the movie. His character was a lot of fun, with some shocking scenes, awkward scenes, bizarre scenes. I never knew what to expect with this character around. It was like he was the comedic relief in a comedy, which worked so well because it allowed Bryan Cranston and James Franco to play straight characters in certain scenes where Keegan-Michael Key took the comedic role which I think kept the movie feeling fresh from a comedy standpoint.
Con: Franco & Deutch (-3pts)
This was a minor issue for me and maybe some people did not have issue with it at all, but I did not think that James Franco and Zoey Deutch’s characters worked together. I think that the two actors had chemistry together but I did not buy into the character’s relationship. They were both very extremely different people and while we were constantly told by Zoey’s character that Laird was a good guy and a caring guy, I wish we could have seen what made her think so. I got over this issue pretty quickly into the movie, but where the plot of this film relies heavily on the character’s relationship, it would have been nice to see more of the two of them before Laird meets her family.
Grade: B- (84pts)
Why Him? was a fun movie, if I’m to sum it up as simply as possible. Some of the laughs worked, others worked really well and some didn’t work at all, but this movie is full of laughs. Between Bryan Cranston, James Franco and Keegan-Michael Key bringing tons of comedy, it is hard to not enjoy this movie. It sacrifices story for comedy as most comedy movies do, with a weak story that left me not caring about the outcome. However, the story was clearly not the focus of the film. The focus of the film was comedy and on that, Why Him? succeeded. I recommend checking this movie out when you get a chance, it is a lot more fun than the trailers suggested.