Movie Review: “Why Him?”
Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston) owns a struggling printing company. He is not sure how he will keep his company afloat, but it is the time of the year for him to try to take his mind off of these issues. Ned 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 mobile app. Ned loves his daughter very much, and naturally cares very much about who she ends up with.
When they meet, Laird makes a very terrible first impression, leaving Ned to wonder "Why him?". Laird is profane, he is rich, and he does not seem to be very responsible. Ned cannot imagine his daughter spending the rest of her life with this man, and Laird is well aware of Ned’s disapproval. Laird decides to make a deal with Ned. He is willing to put his relationship with Ned’s daughter on the line, but promises that (by the end of the week) Ned will be referring to Laird as “son”.
The Pros & Cons
Cranston & Franco (+10pts)
Predictability & The Story (-5pts)
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 complementing comedic styles that worked really well together. Bryan Cranston played a serious man who has found himself in a ridiculous situation, while James Franco played a ridiculous man who was trying to be taken seriously. I think this movie would have been very different without either of these two actors. They are very different characters but, as actors, they are pretty similar. Both are proven dramatic, and comedic actors. I think this is what allows the pairing to work so well together. The characters (as ridiculous as they are) seem believable because of the acting, and they are so much fun to watch because of the actors’ comedic timing and sensibility. More than anything else, Bryan Cranston and James Franco make this movie an entertaining one to watch.
Con: Predictability & The 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 necessarily supposed to be on making a strong plot but, come on, a little unpredictability goes a long way. After addressing the predictability of the plot, there were comedic moments that were extremely predictable as well. There were things that were set up, where I knew exactly how they would be brought in later on for comedic purposes. 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 an almost brilliant manner. There were no long durations in which I was not amused, chuckling or straight up laughing out loud.
We all know that comedic pacing can be an issue for too many comedies. Some comedies have funny moments that are too few and far between. Other comedies throw so many jokes at you that the quality of those jokes suffers. Why Him? was funny from opening to close. Is it a comedy that will stick with me for years? Absolutey not, I will probably forget about it in a month, but it definitely kept me entertained while I was watching it. Some comedic moments will not work for everyone but, generally, the comedy in this movie works and it is paced really well. It never felt like too much, and there were not any lulls that left me bored. Why Him? landed right in the middle.
Con: The Opinion (-3pts)
I will need to be a little vague here, in order to avoid spoilers. I kind of touched on this earlier, but Ned’s final opinion of Laird did not really work for me. I first and foremost did not feel very invested in it because this element of the film’s story 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’s final opinion of Laird was supported by the rest of the movie.
Up until this point, I believed it entirely, I just did not buy it at the end, which was unfortunate. Luckily, as I previously stated, the lacking story made me not really care about the final opinion, so this did not hurt the movie too much. I think that if you look deep enough, you can see what influenced Ned’s final opinion, I just think the filmmakers could have focused on it better. Who knows? Maybe some people found the final opinion to be completely justified, but I certainly was not one of those people.
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 most entertaining character in this movie. His character was a lot of fun, with some shocking scenes, awkward scenes, and bizarre scenes (I know that may sound a little redundant). I never knew what to expect when this character was 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 temporatily play straight characters and focus on the drama when the plot needed that from them. I think this kept the movie feeling comedically entertaining, while allowing the main characters to move the plot along.
Con: Franco & Deutch (-3pts)
This was a minor issue for me and maybe some people did not have an 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 characters’ relationship. They were both 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 met her family.
Grade: B- (84pts)
Why Him? was a fun movie, if I was to sum it up as simply as possible. Some of the laughs worked, others worked really well and some did not 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 sacrificed 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, I thought it was a lot more fun than the trailers suggested it would be.