‘Casa de Mi Padre’ channels ‘Three Amigos’
When I was a kid, I loved ¡Three Amigos!, starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short. It was one of those great, cheap ‘80s movies that didn’t need effects or complex characters because the guys starring in it were hilarious. The Will Ferrell comedy Casa de Mi Padre is a lot like that, but all in Spanish.
First off, I feel Ferrell and the gang deserve some recognition for doing an American comedy entirely en Español. It’s common knowledge that mainstream audiences hate reading subtitles and it’s quite a bold move to make a film that only includes about ten words of English. Surely this will effect the box office, but Ferrell should be enough of a draw for most and I’m guessing the budget for Casa de Mi Padre was mere pennies compared to most other films in theaters right now.
Farrell stars as Armando Alvarez, a simple rancher who likes to spend his days riding with his friends (Efren Ramirez and Adrian Martinez) and his nights camping out under the stars. When his wealthy and successful brother Raul (Diego Luna) returns to visit their father (Pedro Armendáriz Jr.), he brings along his beautiful fiancée Sonia (Genesis Ramirez), reminding everyone once again that he’s way better than his simple sibling. There’s only one problem, Raul’s success hasn’t come from business but rather from the drug trade, primarily selling drugs to stupid Americans on vacation. He’s mixed up with evil drug lord Onza (the scene-stealing-ly gorgeous Gael García Bernal), who also happens to want Sonia. After an attack at Raul’s wedding, Armando must grow a pair and try to save Sonia and the family.
The film is delightfully tacky, with big matte painting backgrounds instead of CGI landscapes and animatronic animals instead of real ones. This is especially funny in an early scene involving Sonia and Armando riding off on horses as well as several shots of Armando and his friends driving their pickup truck down the road. Stock background footage races by the windows and it’s very reminiscent of the films of old.
Ferrell proves he can be just as funny in Spanish, particularly in scenes with Luna, who has great, natural comedic timing. Bernal is also very impressive because he plays Onza with great conviction, even in the most ridiculous circumstances. It’s perfect for the telenovela vibe they’re going for. The bizarre sex scene is sure to get some big laughs as well with several shots of naked butts (like, seriously, a lot) and even a quick moment where Ferrell rolls around with a mannequin.
Casa de Mi Padre can feel a bit disjointed, at one point breaking from the story for a trippy montage, but it’s got a lot of funny moments and it maintains that low-budget spirit that lends itself to comedy westerns. If you’re like me and subtitles are no deterrent, check it out.