Starring: James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Zoey Duetch, Megan Mullally, Griffin Gluck, Keegan-Michael Kay, Cedric The Entertainer, Kaley Cuoco, Zack Pearlman.
Year Of Release: 2016
Certificate: 15 (UK)/PG-13 (US)
Runtime: 111 Minutes
Director: John Hamburg
Writer(s): John Hamburg, Ian Helfer & Jonah Hill.
Synopsis: “A holiday gathering threatens to go off the rails when Ned Fleming realizes that his daughter’s Silicon Valley millionaire boyfriend is about to pop the question.” IMDB
It’s fair to say that over the recent years, there has been a large influx of what I tend to call adult comedies taking over from the ‘norm’. Now, personally, I’m not that big a comedy fan – at least not any more. When it comes to comedies, my foot enjoys being stuck in the comedies of the 80’s and early 90’s. Movies like Coming to America, Trading Places, Fast times at Ridgemont High and Brewster’s Millions etc. are kind of where my comedy tastes sit most comfortably. There was a great innocence about these movies (despite the 80’s obsession with boobs) that seems lost somewhere in the past.
That being said, lost they are, and in their place, sit what we most frequently have today. That is to say, there are many out there now that you shouldn’t probably sit down with the entire family with on a Saturday night. At least not when the younger children are around. Generally, if you add the word ‘fuck’ to your script more than is actually necessary and you spurt out as many innuendos as you can, you’re likely to get a couple of laughs in an otherwise average movie. Oh, and let’s not forget about the fourth-wall breaking. Movies such as Bad Moms (2016), Dirty Grandpa (2016), Sex Tape (2014), Bad Teacher (2011), Bad…whatever and basically anything that recently starred Jennifer Aniston are perfect examples of the ‘adult comedy’ genre. Now, I’m not saying that they are bad. In fact, there are some genuinely funny ones out there, or at least, they have enough funny moments in them to keep me watching.
So, I sat down and settled myself in to watch Why Him? and hopefully grab myself a couple of guilty chuckles and give my ribs a little tickling to wake them up.
My ribs are still sleeping peacefully.
The first thing I have to say is that Why Him? successfully takes the age-old formula of the dad’s horror of meeting his daughter’s seemingly unsuitable boyfriend for the first time and does absolutely nothing new with it. I call this a success as I’m assuming that this was the filmmaker’s intention since they managed to pull it off in such spectacular fashion. There are only so many different ways you can terrorize someone in a home invasion movie, and that can be said with a father/son-in- law conflict comedy. You can hardy go in expecting something new and exciting, you just hope for the best and a few laughs. Unfortunately, much like a HI movie, it seems as though three masked assailants by the names of John Hamburg, Ian Helfer and Jonah Hill marauded a poor unsuspecting script, one night after a heavy nights drinking, and terrorized the shit out of it until it became a complete snivelling wreck, minus the standard fight-back to regain control.
There really is no story worth talking about. If you’ve read the synopsis, then that’s all you need to know, and definitely more than you’ll give a toss about. Surely the saving grace is in the casting… right? Wrong!
Let’s start with the criminally wasted Bryan Cranston as Ned Fleming (AKA ‘the dad’). Aside from the wage packet, I’m not entirely sure what he was thinking about when he took this role. Now, Cranston is pretty much universally loved. If you don’t know him from Malcolm in the Middle (2000-2006), then you probably know him as Breaking Bad’s (2008-2013) ‘Heisenberg’. Obviously, he’s appeared in lots of other things too, but these two will generally stick out the most in people’s minds. There’s no doubt that he is great in both comedic and dramatic roles. He’s a fine actor indeed. However, he seemed completely out of placed and even lost in the abysmal script of this abomination. Like a blind old man, flapping about for his teeth in a room full of dentures, he struggled. There just wasn’t anything good to work with and that showed throughout in his performance.
So, to the unsuitable that the film asks the question of, Laird Mayhew. Mayhew is played by opinion divider James Franco. Now, it’s only fair to point out, in the interest of balancing the opinion scales, whether you like Franco or not, it really doesn’t matter, because you absolutely will not give a damn about this character, or whether he gets the girl and wins the father’s respect. Now, the character is designed to be annoying, it helps the audience to side with the frustrated father and feel his irritation that his precious daughter would find herself attached to someone like him. Somehow, the dislike of the character leaks far beyond that, maybe to even Franco himself, and at no point throughout the entire movie do I care to see if he turns shit around and win the grace of the family. I just don’t care. The character is bland and two-dimensional, adding nothing to the done-to- death role. Zoey Deutch plays the role of the daughter in question Stephanie Fleming. That’s it. That’s my review of her; ‘Zoey Deutch plays the role of the daughter in question Stephanie Fleming’. So, typical and routine is her performance of a typical and routine character, that I’ve really got nothing else to go on. Megan Mullally also stars in the film as the mother, Megan Mull…Barb Fleming. Megan Mullally channels all the Megan Mullallys she has ever played in everything else and puts on a standard Megan Mullally show. That being said, I do like her. There’s also a cliché brother character in there and Keegan-Michael Key playing Cato from The Pink Panther movies… or a similar ‘German’ version of.
Normally at this point I wrap things up with an overall summery, but I’ve made it pretty clear what I think of it. I can’t even remember if I laughed or not? Let’s just say that it builds up pointlessly to a boring end that adds nothing. Ooh, Kaley Cuoco has a voice role in it. Okay, that’s all I’ve got. In short, Why Him?..Why bother?