Casa de Mi Padre (2012)

Let Him Die.  He’s Missing a Hand Anyway.

Casa de Mi Padre (2012)Friendboss Josh was starting to feel neglected recently because I hadn’t reviewed anything he had requested in a very long time.  Obviously he wasn’t paying attention to my recent reviews or he would’ve realized that I barely have done anyone’s requests recently.  I’ve been busy, forgetful, and disinterested!  But I’m trying to get back into them, and I figured the best place to start was with the request of one of my best friends … and also the one that’s been hounding me and I might be able to get off my back with this review.  And then I can get back to getting him onto his back.  YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYIN’?  Anyway, Friendboss Josh requested that I review Casa de Mi Padre, written by Andrew Steele, directed by Matt Piedmont, and starring Will Ferrell, Génesis Rodríguez, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, Pedro Armendáriz, Jr., Nick Offerman, Efren Ramirez, and Adrian Martinez.

Armando Álvarez (Will Ferrell) es un ranchero que cuida para el rancho de su padre en México, aunque su padre parece odiarlo para algo tan pequeño como accidentalmente matando a su esposa (y madre de Armando) cuando él era joven.  El hermano de Armando, Raúl (Diego Luna), devoluciones al rancho un día con su nueva novia Sonia (Génesis Rodriguez), que causa problema porque ella cae en amor con Armando… y porque ella revela que Raúl ha sentido bien a un traficante y está en la guerra con el señor de las drogas peligroso, Onza (Gael García Bernal).

How about that, people?  Was that paragraph made hilarious by the fact that I had some website poorly translate it into Spanish?  …No?  Well then what’s the deal with this movie?  I felt like I was missing something while I was watching this.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve never seen the type of movie this seems to be trying to spoof, but I can’t say for sure.  It would makes sense for why Josh would like it because (as a Mexican) I believe he probably watched nothing but movies and TV shows like the ones this movie was spoofing until he learned the English language at the age of 23.  I felt like this movie was a funny idea, but it never got much beyond that for me.  This movie would’ve made a hilarious trailer, or even a great 5 minute short on Funny or Die, but that joke wore thin in a feature-length movie.  I imagine that the people involved in this movie fell in love with their own idea so strongly that they just never stopped believing in it, whereas I started to nod off in the middle of the movie, which is especially bad because I needed to pay attention just to know what was going on because I had a movie to read.  The moments that I actually found amusing in this movie were pretty sparse.  They went for some comedy in awkward moments a few times (a strategy I have seen work in the past) such as the awkwardly long laugh in the beginning of the movie, or the scene of the girl trying to get on the horse, but they weren’t particularly funny awkward moments.

I would say the most amusement I got out of the movie came from some more visual gags.  They did a lot of jokes in the movie that were intended to make it look like it was a real film that was not paying enough attention to things like continuity, or how poorly their props were made.  Some of these moments were when Armando went to pick up the real calf and it turned into a fake one that wasn’t even the same color, the really fake looking backgrounds in some scenes, the scene where Armando and Sonia were fake riding fake horses and someone would wheel a plant by behind them, the terribly fake miniature of the exterior of the bar (complete with Hot Wheels cars parked out front), the sex scene with Will Ferrell and the mannequin, and (my favorite) the scene where you could see the reflection of the crew in the DEA Agent’s aviator sunglasses with the guy eating a donut against the wall to the side.  There was some amusement to be had in these scenes, but not really enough to justify how many times they went for that same joke.  Of course, the scene where some chick gets shot in her titty at the wedding was some good comedy.

The cast in this movie caused no real complaints from me.  They did fine jobs with material that just didn’t work for me.  If Will Ferrell didn’t speak Spanish before going into this movie, then he deserves some praise for his commitment to learning it.  And he deserves some praise for how hard he seems to commit to his character.  He never really goes for any overt comedy with the character, but Will Ferrell can be funny as a straight man, without going for any jokes too hard.  The funniest thing I’d say he did in this movie involved how bad he was at rolling cigarettes.  There was a scene where they pointed it out that I didn’t find particularly funny, but the scene where he was just rolling a cigarette as he was having a conversation with his friends and he did it so poorly that the tobacco was falling out the end of it in his mouth amused me.  Beyond that, I don’t have much to say about anyone else in the movie besides that they did fine jobs.  And that Génesis Rodríguez is sexy as hell.

I was disappointed to find out that I didn’t really find Casa de Mi Padre particularly amusing, but I also can’t say that I didn’t expect it.  I knew this movie would be hindered by the fact that I had to read the movie for no good reason and that it would have to work hard to overcome that.  It had the potential to overcome it, but nothing in the movie really made me laugh besides a few silly visual gags of intentional continuity mistakes.  The movie wasn’t painful to watch, but it WAS a comedy that didn’t make me laugh so I don’t think I can recommend it for a watch.  Maybe if you’re fluent in Spanish, or if you have a vast experience with telenovelas, you will find something in this movie that I missed.  Casa de Mi Padre gets “Stay away, or I’ll beat you with these hands!” out of “If you were smart, you would know that you are dumb.”

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The Campaign (2012)

Because Filipino Tilt-a-Whirl Operators are This Nation’s Backbone!

My interest was piqued in today’s movie because of the two actors that starred in it, but I probably wouldn’t have gone to the theater for it.  I feel like I’ve been burned by one of the actors in the movie before, though the other has not really let me down just yet.  I guess I looked at the movie and just felt like I didn’t trust it to be worth my money, so I had set my mind to waiting to see it until it came out on DVD and I could get it from RedBox.  But when Friendboss Josh suggested we go see it, I decided to go.  I was on the fence anyway; I just needed a little nudge.  And that brings us to my review of The Campaign, written by Chris Hency and Shawn Harwell, directed by Jay Roach, and starring Zach Galifianakis, Will Ferrell, Dan Aykroyd, John Lithgow, Dylan McDermott, Jason Sudeikis, Brian Cox, Katherine LaNasa, Sarah Baker, Jack McBrayer, and John Goodman.

Democratic Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) has found himself in a sticky situation after he accidentally leaves a sexually explicit message meant for his mistress on the answering machine of a very conservative Christian family.  In response, the two corrupt businessmen that formerly backed Cam, brothers Glen (John Lithgow) and Wade Motch (Dan Aykroyd) decide they need a new candidate to run against Cam with their backing so that they can later manipulate him into letting them bring the Chinese tradition of sweat shop labor to America.  They pick Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), eccentric – and possibly gay – son of former politician and Motch brothers associate, Raymond Huggins (Brian Cox), and set Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) to be Marty’s campaign manager and hopefully fix the mess that is Marty enough to make him a viable candidate.  And so begins the battle for the Congressional seat of North Carolina’s 14th District.

When I left this movie, I found myself torn in regards to its quality, but Friendboss Josh helped me set myself straight.  I had gotten it into my head that the movie was underwhelming because there were points within this movie that I was not laughing, but then Josh reminded me that movies tend to feel the need to include story, which sometimes needs to be exposition and not laughs.  I don’t really know what I was thinking.  The only things that can pull off non-stop laughter are videos on YouTube with the word “Fail” in the title.  And Josh was kind enough to remind me that I laughed out loud on more than one occasion during this movie.  …But fuck Josh!  He doesn’t tell me what to do in a non-work setting!  I HATE THIS MOVIE!  Okay, I don’t.  When I got to thinking about it in the proper head space, I realized that I did find this movie funny enough to recommend for a viewing.  The story was pretty solid.  The tactics in the battle ramp up in new and mostly hilarious and preposterous ways.  I also found it very interesting that the guy we had liked from the beginning of the movie and the guy we hated started to trade places at one point in the movie, though it’s probably not that atypical of a thing to see in a movie like this.  And, though it goes mostly in the way you’d expect, the way it gets there is filled with enough solid laughs that it’s okay.  It would be no spoilers if you saw the trailer for the movie, but I probably laughed the hardest when Cam pulled a Raging Bull on that baby.  First because it was in slow-mo, and second because to Hell with that baby.  The only other part I can really remember making me laugh really hard was the part where Cam’s car had a painting of him sitting down on the side of his car, which I found hilarious.  There were plenty of other moments, but I took shitty notes.  I mean … I don’t want to ruin it …?

The performances were pretty much exactly what I expected them to be.  Galifianakis was probably not as funny as I’d want him to be, but I probably just hold him in too high of a regard.  I’ve loved him for a long time and I probably just always want him to blow my mind with his hilariousness.  The character he does in this movie is funny, but it’s also one I’ve seen him do in a few different places before.  I wouldn’t necessarily assume that the character would be able to sustain an entire movie, but it did alright and brought a good deal of funny.  I liked his awkward attempts to trash talk with Cam, but more of the actual funny came from Ferrell in that exchange.  Ferrell was also a pretty typical character for him, being the smug, stupid, douche nozzle type, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t do it well.  And he punched a baby right in its stupid face.  Speaking of stupid faces, how was Galifianakis’ chubby son in the movie able to pull off a perfectly round face?  He was like a Charlie Brown character.

Once my crazy expectations were put in check, I came to realize that I found The Campaign plenty funny enough to earn a recommendation.  The story was not unexpected, but contained plenty enough laughs, and that’s all a comedy really needs, and the same could mostly be said about the performances.  It’s not the most mind-blowing comedy ever, but it’s good, solid laughs and worth checking out.  The Campaign gets “Rainbow Land is a fictitious place!” out of “I’m Cam Brady, and I seductively approve this message.”

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