Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Casa De Mi Padre

Onza for the Money

Rated: R  Language, drug use, bloody violence and some sexual content
Release Date: March 16, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 24 mins

Director:  Matt Piedmont
Writers: Andrew Steele
Cast:  Will Ferrell, Diego Luna, Pedro Armendariz, Jr., Génesis Rodríguez, Efren Ramirez, Adrian Martinez, Gael García Bernal

SYNOPSIS: On the Alvarez ranch, two sons find themselves at odds with each other and with a murdering drug lord bent on expanding his territory.

REVIEW: Matt Piedmont, writer for several seasons on Saturday Night Live and director of dozens of Funny or Die Presents webisodes, clears the way for Will Ferrell to do something he has never done before - namely a Spanish speaking indie comedy. Helped along by a script from The Ladies Man writer Andrew Steele, the finished film is a semi-timeless homage to Mexican westerns and soap operas.
Rancher Armando Alvarez (Will Ferrell, Everything Must Go) takes care of the family's cattle with his trusty ranch hands Esteban (Efren Ramirez, Gamer) and Manuel (Adrian Martinez, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). Not considered very bright by his own widowed father Miguel Ernesto (the late Pedro Armendáriz Jr., The Legend of Zorro), Miguel looks to Armando's younger brother Raul (Diego Luna, Contraband) to save the ranch. Bringing with him a beautiful fiancee Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez, Man on a Ledge) and a trail of drug smuggling, Raul catches the notice and disapproval of both his brother and the Mexican drug lord Onza (Gael García Bernal, Blindness). Soon, Raul's pride and greed places the entire Alvarez family in mortal peril.

Will Ferrell is a master at creating, selecting, and starring in off-beat projects, from buddy action comedies like The Other Guys to subtle dramas like Everything Must Go. This time around, Ferrell decides to learn a little Spanish and get up in the saddle for his latest flick. Set as a Mexican western with all of the dramatic flare of any telenovela, Casa De Mi Padre is a strange steer to wrangle.
Completely immersing itself in the culture of several decades, Armando and his sidekick ranch hands initially look like something out of the 1970s, with golden fields and epic camera shots. As Armando and his pals race for home, they come across the drug lord Onza. Hiding behind obviously studio staged rocks and shrubs with a Bonanza-styled matte painting in the background, Armando, Esteban, and Manuel look down on a brutal scene filled with an execution and recent model Cadillac Escalades. Retreating back to the ranch, modern vehicles mix with dated clothing mix with traditional Mexican servant wear. All bets are off as Ferrell and director Piedmont mix and match almost every decade since the 60s. Even the 80s get a mention as DEA agent Parker (Nick Offerman, 21 Jump Street) crosses the border from Los Estados Unidos to try and pit the local policia against Onza against the Alvarez family.

Will Ferrell is his usual naive, corny self, his Armando character's eyes squinted like a younger version of his George Bush impression. Diego Luna's Raul is slick and slimy as he tries to become the new premiere drug lord of Mexico. Not to be outdone, Gael Garcia Bernal's Onza displays a knowing smugness in his position and power, so powerful, in fact, that he can smoke two cigarettes at the same time. Adding a bit of sensual and secretive curves to the screen, Genesis Rodriguez does her very best to harness the Spanish spirits of the past and present in Sonia.

Casa De Mi Casa is filled with obvious bad edits, horribly obvious scene staging, trotting fake horses that go nowhere as film crew extras slide tree branches across the set, a white puma (the true Onza) created from Jim Henson's creature shop, and more. Aside from that, Ferrell and Piedmont make every effort to bring together as much of a homage and parady to a tried and true cultural and national style of filmmaking as they possibly could. As successful as the film is on one front, it does unfortunately fail as a comedy. There are some laughs, but nowhere near what we have come to expect from Ferrell's films. The original music is pretty cool, though. Audiences will probably not 'get' it but it is certainly an interesting cinematic attempt.

WORTH: Rental

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