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Movie review: Casa de Mi Padre
It's a scientific fact that by the year 2029 the majority of the world will be speaking Spanish. Except those speaking Chinese. And English. And by the same time, Spanish will become the main spoken language in the US, closely followed by gibberish, and then American English. These are simply facts that can't be refuted, because as everyone knows, Wikipedia never lies.
Will Ferrell has obviously been made aware of these solid facts as his latest film is clearly his first move to become the first US star to crossover and dominate the Spanish-speaking market. He could have quite easily put on a silly accent to do this, but instead the 44 year-old actor speaks Spanish throughout in his latest film.
There's no place like casa for Armando (Ferrell); he lives there, with his father on their ranch in quiet corner of Mexico. Armando may only have his father and his two friends in his life, but he's blissfully happy.
And then his brother Raul (Diego Luna) returns home, with the beautiful Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez) on his arm. Sonia's arrival stirs something deep inside Armando, but it seems she has that affect on a lot of men.
Raul's return is good news for the farm. For years now it's been struggling to make money, and with Raul's return he promises that he'll take care of everything.
At first it sounds like the good times are back, but then Armando learns that his brother is actually involved in a drugs cartel and that his family are now on an unavoidable collision course with Mexico's most feared drug lord, Onza (Gael García Bernal).
Although the film initially appears to borrow a visual style of a B-movie, something akin to Robert Rodriguez' Machete, for example, it's actually based on a popular South American style of TV show called a telenovela; they're similar to Spanish-speaking soap operas, but tend have a story that is ultimately resolved after airing for roughly a year or so.
Obviously this comedic homage pokes fun at the genre: the style of acting is unlikely to win any awards; it suffers from the odd continuity problem; and the animals portrayed in the film are done so on the tightest of budgets. It's the film's overall feel that manages to charm the most.
Where it struggles is with the script. It would have worked well as a sketch on, say Saturday Night Live (either as a one-off or on-going idea), where, funnily enough Farrell, writer Andrew Steele and director Matt Piedmont all previously worked, but the concept is just too weak to be sustained for a full length feature.
It puts on a good, colourful show for the first half an hour or so, but begins to quickly run out of steam from thereon in.
The most remarkable thing is that Ferrell took a chance and decided to essentially star in a foreign language film. He proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that it doesn't matter how big a star you are, if you appear in a film speaking anything other than English, don't expect your usual fans to turn up and hear you speak some weird lingo. His last big comedy (The Other Guys) took roughly $170 million at the US box office, whereas this made just over $5 million. Aye aye aye.
It's just a shame that the fact Ferrell speaks Spanish all the way through this, was the biggest risk this film was prepared to take. It had the opportunity to really push the concept and make a truly funny film, but instead, it decided to take a siesta half way through.
Who knows, maybe audiences stayed away not for the fact that it had subtitles, but that Signor Farrell wasn't nearly as funny as he should have been.
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