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EW Movie Review: "Casa De Mi Padre"
"Casa De Mi Padre" sounds like the ultimate Will Ferrell joke: a Mexican family revenge melodrama, made in Spanish, with Ferrell in dark sideburns and south-of-the-border cowboy duds as Armando Alvarez, the naive son in a clan of ranchers.
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As soon as you hear that premise, it’s hard not to imagine "Three Amigos" meets "Nacho Libre" with a touch of "Tijuana Nights." But here’s how ultimate the joke of "Casa De Mi Padre" really is: this is a parody so dialed down, so knowingly minimal, that it verges on not being a comedy.
Ferrell’s Armando battles a drug lord, played by Diego Luna, and fights his brother, Gael García Bernal, for the hand of a hottie señorita. As he does, there are a small handful of wacky-absurdist moments: a love scene consisting almost entirely of bare-butt shots, a talking white mountain lion that’s a little too obviously an animatronic puppet.
Ferrell, though, mostly plays it straight -- it takes all of 30 seconds to get used to him speaking impeccable Spanish -- and the movie plays it straight, too. And that, in a funny way, is the joke: that Will Ferrell went this far to do an ersatz Mexican genre potboiler with hardly a laugh line.
Even if you choose to experience "Casa De Mi Padre" as a postmodern wink at the audience, it’s a very abstract wink. Yet if you take the film on its own terms, as a kind of Elvis movie dipped in guacamole, it’s quirkily engrossing.
Ferrell is a good straight actor for the same reason he’s an inspired comedian: he commits himself to every moment. Even in a movie whose highest ambition is to be true to its quaintly delectable tackiness.