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7 / 10
- Acting was decent.
- Jokes were funny
- Direction was OK
- Very predictable cliche story
- The daughter's arc of wanting to quit school to run her boyfriend's foundation, to suddenly wanting to go back to school feels a bit rushed, and contrived.
Flemings are in the house!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you can imagine a far less clever, yet raunchier, version of "Meet the Parents", with a twist of having the father of the girl being the protagonist, then you can get the gist of what "Why Him?" is about. Bryan Cranston plays a well to do suburban dad, who runs a struggling print advertising company that's losing business thanks to the internet. However, he tries to cover it up in front of his family for the holidays, but things get even weirder when he finds out about his daughter's new boyfriend over skype, as he strips buck naked while shaking his a** in front of the webcam, for her entire family to see.... I wish I was making that up....
Needless to say, James Franco plays the free spirited guy trying to win over his girlfriend's father, who doesn't seem all too keen on him. Unlike "Meet the Parents" where it's the boyfriend trying to conform to the father's ways to gain some form of acceptance, it's really him just pushing his ways onto the father with the hopes that he'll just accept him. He invites them over to his environmental friendly house, where they have paperless toilets and no papers around the house whatsoever. And instead of eating normal food, they eat things like smoked bear, or chunks of edible newspaper clippings. In fact, there's even a robotic disembodied voice that records everything you say for prosperity purposes, as she's basically a electronic secretary.
While I'm not necessarily comparing "Why HIm?" to "Meet the Parents", there are a lot of similarities in their stories, as well as some differences too. Granted, "Meet the Parents" wasn't a perfect comedy by any means, but it had lot of good morals; along with some great jokes. What I loved about "Meet the Parents" was that neither Robert DeNiro's character, or Ben Stiller's character, were ever truly in the wrong on their positions. Robert's character was just looking out for the best interest of his daughter, even if he took it to bizarre extremes. And to be fair, Greg (Ben Stiller) did lie a lot to him, so you could sort of understand where he was coming from.
However, Greg was trying to do whatever he could to fit in, and hopefully gain his love and acceptance into his fiance's family, even though they constantly treated him like crap most of the time. Needless to say, the movie ends on the note that while Robert's character doesn't necessarily accept Greg (Ben Stiller) as being his ideal son in law, he still manages to come the realization that he's ultimately a good guy, and that his daughter loves him. As for Greg, he comes to realize that while he may not always be in favor with his father in law, he grows to understand that it's more important to just be himself rather than try to totally conform to gain acceptance.
It's was a clever comedy, with some nice pacing. And overall, it was a great movie poking fun at some of the angst that some of us would feel either meeting the in laws, or just meeting your lover's parents for the first time.
The point is that both came to an understanding about one another, and both had to compromise with one another to gain some form of mutual respect at the end. And in a lot of ways, that's very deep for a comedy to touch on.
As for how this relates to "Why Him?", I'll get into that now. Unlike "Meet the Parents", where both parties weren't necessarily right or wrong in their way of thinking (although one took it to Nazi level extremes), "Why HIm?" clearly makes it obvious from the get go that Bryan Cranston's character is clearly in the wrong. Throughout the entire film, it shows the stereotypical cliche father, who doesn't listen to his family, or he's out of touch with today's generation. Sure, James Franco's character does learn a lesson about how he shouldn't always go overboard with trying to impress his girlfriend, but that's more of an arc involving him and his girlfriend. Not between him and her father. If anything, he clearly doesn't compromise anything to make the relationship between him and the father work.
And because of this approach, the film feels a bit lackluster at best. At least with both sides coming to an understanding in "Meet the Parents", you could get a sense that it felt like a comedy playing on the real life angst that most of us would feel in Greg's predicament. Granted, I know most "r-rated" comedies aren't going to be have the best writing, as that's the nature of the beast. However, it just misses the mark of what it could've been.
As for the rest of the film, I thought it was fairly decent. The jokes were funny for the most part, and the acting was solid. Granted, some of the story arcs feel a bit rushed. For example. We find out that the daughter is dropping out of college to run her boyfriend's billion dollar foundation, but she quickly changes her mind to go back to school for herself? And no explanation why either? Yeah, that feels like a contrived plot device pulled out of the writer's a**.
Overall though, "Why Him?" is exactly what you'd expect it to be. It's a funny "r-rated" comedy with some good laughs, and some likable characters. Is it a masterpiece? Certainly not, but if you're aching to get a few good laughs, then it's worth checking out.