casa di mi padre
(16, general release, 84 minutes )
Director: Matt Piedmont Stars: Will Ferrell, Gael Garcia Bernal, Genesis Rodriguez, Diego Luna
Written by Andrew Steele, starring Will Ferrell and produced by Ferrell and Andy McKay, all of whom are Saturday Night Live veterans, Casa di mi Padre looks and feels like a sketch from that show that's been put on a rack and stretched to film length.
The movie is inspired by the South American telenovelas, soap operas charged with melodrama, sexual tension, absurd plot twists and explosions of cathartic violence. Casa di mi Padre apes these TV potboilers and surprisingly, even daringly, it does so entirely in Spanish.
Ferrell is Armando Alvarez, the idiot son of a modern-day Mexican rancher. While Armando rides around his father's estate on horseback tending to the cattle, ruthless drug dealers are encroaching on the land.
Armando is not best pleased when his younger brother Raul (Diego Luna) arrives home in a flash car with a beautiful but shady-looking young wife.
Raul's newfound wealth comes from drug dealing, and when his feud with local kingpin Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal) turns nasty, Armando is drawn into an operatically violent conflict.
For Casa di mi Padre's opening five minutes or so, it is genuinely amusing to see the very large and Irish-looking Ferrell chattering in Spanish and pretending to be Mexican. But aside from this and the in-joke of aping the excesses of the telenovelas, Matt Piedmont's movie has nothing much else up its sleeve.
As the ideas run thin, the humour gets broader and broader, but the jokes are weak and the plot is so risible that even the characters seem confused.
Ferrell is as likeable as ever, and Gael Garcia Bernal is fun as the pantomime villain, but even at 84 minutes Casa di mi Padre feels a good half hour too long.
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