By Caryn James | James on Screens March 16, 2012 at 8:26AM
Over time I’ve come to recognize my reaction to Will Ferrell comedies – they’re funny on first viewing, though not relentlessly laugh-til-you-cry hilarious. But on second or third viewing their cleverness kicks in even more, scene-for-scene, and their humor seems to grow. (That’s especially true of the praying to the Baby Jesus scene in Talladega Nights.) So while there is plenty to laugh at in Casa de Mi Padre, his Spanish-language spoof of bad old Western movies, I suspect its many moving parts will seem even more comic over time.
Ferrell plays Armando Alvarez, another good-hearted, not-too-bright guy, this time the son of a Mexican rancher. Armando’s conspicuously drug-dealing brother, Raul, is played by Diego Luna, and the drug lord competing with him, called La Onza, by Gael Garcia Bernal, both perfectly in synch with the film’s play-it-straight manner. But what really makes the movie work are its intentionally bad touches: the continuity problems, when a glass of champagne in one shot morphs into an umbrella drink in the next; the scene in which Armando and his brother’s beautiful girlfriend (Genesis Rodriquez) go horseback riding and we see only the tops of the plastic horses’ heads bobbing up and down; the product placement that has Bernal’s character smoking out of both sides of his mouth, two of the sponsor’s cigarettes at once. Casa de Mi Padre is like a looser, goofier version of a Christopher Guest film.
Here’s how loose and goofy the movie is. Raul cruelly taunts his brother, “Mexico is no place for cowards!” And that remark is followed by a song, as Armando and his ranch hand friends sit around the campfire. Here it is:
Directed by former SNL writer Matt Piedmont, Casa di Mi Padre is a subtitled film that is fun even for people who don’t usually like subtitles. That may be its ultimate tongue-in-cheek movie joke. (If you missed his interview with Jimmy Kimmel, entirely in mangled Spanish, click here to watch.)