Casa de mi Padre (US - BD RA)
Gabriel se examina esta nueva comedia de todos los españoles, no en español...
Armando Álvarez (Will Ferrell) ha vivido y trabajado en el rancho de su padre en México toda su vida. Cuando el rancho se encuentra con dificultades financieras, más joven Armando hermano Raúl (Diego Luna) se presenta con su nueva novia Sonia (Génesis Rodríguez) en el remolque. Promesas rual para resolver todas las deudas del rancho con el dinero que ha ganado como un éxito "hombre de negocios internacional." Pero cuando Armando se enamora de Sonia y las relaciones de Raúl de negocios se deleitaba al ser de índole penal, el infierno se desata ya que se encuentran en una guerra con más temido de México capo de la droga, el poderoso Onza (Gael García Bernal).
Sketch comedy genius does not always translate to narrative feature genius. In fact, if it hadn’t been for a couple good/decent/extremely dated Wayne’s World movies, I’d be willing to bet sketch comedy genius never translates to narrative feature genius ( The Blues Brothers was not a sketch; it was a gag musical guest). Casa di Me Padre director Matt Piedmont has struck gold over and over with his (occasionally star-studded) Funny or Die shorts and, contrary to my unpopular opinion, probably wrote some of the more beloved Saturday Night Live sketches. Writer Andrew Steele also worked with Funny or Die and Saturday Night Live, along with (more interesting to me) Nickelodeon’s Doug cartoon series, but the real red flag on his CV is Ladies Man, one of Saturday Night Live most terrible sketch-inspired feature films (of which there are many).
Despite not being based on any specific previous material, Casa de mi Padre is very much an internet/live TV sketch elongated into a feature-length film. It belongs in the ever-growing category of stunt homages to bygone genre conventions, like Machete, Hobo with a Shotgun, and let’s be honest, The Artist. Piedmont lovingly recreates the visual hallmarks of the films he emulates (which are Mexican movies emulating popular Hollywood movies), including a sizable collection of crash-zooms, dramatic close-ups, and some extremely busy, definitively Mexican production design. The film is brimming with passing gags at the expense of the Mexican film industry, including chintzy set-pieces, obviously painted backdrops and continuity errors – all old school, Saturday Night Live trappings that date the humour as particularly early ‘90s friendly. Another repeated gag that runs its comedic course almost immediately is Ferrell’s constant stating of the obvious, which is a joke at the expense of his barely adequate Spanish. This is a mere symptom of the film’s biggest problem – it’s almost entirely built around the barely amusing idea of mega-gringo Will Ferrell acting entirely in Spanish. One has to respect the will it took to build an entire film around such a weak thread, but, in the end, we find ourselves asking that same old question -– why wasn't this just conceived and executed as a short subject?
Steele and Piedmont remember to include a storyline with their lowbrow and disjointed jokes. The fact that the narrative is both traditional and needlessly convoluted is pretty funny in theory (like Ferrell speaking Spanish), but this purposeful predictability ends up extending too many of the jokes. The best repeating jokes play to Ferrell as a performer, his strengths with awkward silences, and his thinly veiled control of his unwieldy frame. Some of the more absurd humour plays as well, but there are very few instances of a joke not being telegraphed from so far away that it loses most of its comedic impact, leaving the audience with little more than a snicker. The quality of the supporting cast goes a long way in selling even the weakest jokes, along with Piedmont and cinematographer Ramsey Nickell’s genuinely impressive visual sense, are the film’s greatest strength. Gael García Bernal is especially good, leading me to wonder why he hasn’t dipped into these particular comedic reserves before.
Despite attempts to look cheap and generally badly made, Casa de mi Padre is a very pretty production with relatively ambitious visual goals. The photography is best defined by its utter lack of cool colours. The entire film is baked in yellows, oranges and reds, leaving greens and blues largely washed into oblivion. I imagine warm hues this aggressively vibrant and pure would wreak havoc with a standard definition release, but here there’s only minor bleeding and blooming effects; no real noticeable low-level blocking effects or unintended hue impurities. Grain levels are consistent with the 35mm source, quite fine, and never have a major effect on the clarity of the transfer. Even the cheap and ugly set-pieces and costumes are usually visually plenty busy, featuring complex patterns and fine details. Attempts at making the film look cheap (which do not include consistent faux-print damage, as seen on Grindhouse or Machete) and use of soft background focus occasionally dull the sharpness of wide-shot details, but there are no major bouts with digital artefacts or mushy separations. Black levels are quite rich and stand out nicely against the aggressive colour palette.
No one should necessarily expect a lot in the way of aural excitement from a Will Ferrell gimmick comedy, but this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack only really falls short when it intends to stand out as such (faux-shitty?). The stereo and surround channels are pretty consistently busy with basic ambience (nature sounds, vague music playing in a bar) and pointed directional enhancement (off-screen movement and discussion). The first big shootout sequence is played out almost entirely with music alone, but your system will get a make-up work-out later when Ferrell has a series of pre-climax hallucinations that feature a bevy of abstract sound effects. Besides, there’s another shootout later with all the punch and directional movement you could ever hope for. The characters’ occasional musical outbreaks and the vibrant western musical score give the track its most aggressive and complex moments. The music spreads nicely over the channels and features solid LFE support that gives the whole film a bit of amusingly un-earned scope.
The extras begin with a commentary track featuring Piedmont, Steele and Ferrell, in English. The track is a good mix of silly fun and genuine information (it’s plenty easy to tell the difference between the sarcastic remarks and the real info) with Ferrell acting as moderator for the most part. Their informative parts often come out of Ferrell’s (apparent) interviewer-like instincts, and outside of brass tacks facts (were scenes were filmed, actors’ names) the Ferrell’s questions often yield truly interesting results. I was especially fond of discussion concerning audience reactions and happy accidents that lead to some of the best ‘unspoken’ jokes. One also gets the impression that all three of these guys were responsible for the final film. Not quite a three director type situation, but definitely a cooperative effort. This party of a track loses momentum at times, turning into a series of silences and narration of the on-screen action, but overall there’s not a lot of reason to complain.
The Making of Casa de mi Padre (15:40, HD) features fun, tongue-in-cheek interviews with actors Will Ferrell, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, Adrian Martinez, Efren Ramirez and Génesis Rodríguez, along with choice scenes from the film, a bit of behind the scenes footage, and an outtake reel. The disc also features ten deleted scenes (19:40), a ‘Fight for Love’ music video featuring Will Ferrell and Genesis Rodriguez (3:20, HD), three faux-commercials (3:00, HD), actor Pedro Amendariz Jr.’s final interview (3:40, HD) and trailers for other Lionsgate releases.
Casa de mi Padre is funnier than expected and features some gorgeous cinematography, despite its attempts at looking unattractive, but it doesn’t sustain a feature-length runtime. There are simply too many dips in quality to truly recommend the film as anything but an oddity. I’m sure Will Ferrell fans will be happy, though. This Blu-ray release looks quite nice, features a surprisingly aggressive DTS-HD soundtrack, and comes fitted with an amusing commentary track, making-of featurette, and deleted scenes.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray image quality
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 17th July 2012
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Extras: Director, Star and Writer/Producer Commentary, Pedro Armendariz Jr. Interview, Making Of Featurette, Deleted Scenes, 'Fight For Love' Music Video, Commercials, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Matt Piedmont
Cast: Will Ferrell, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, Génesis Rodríguez, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Nick Offerman, Efren Ramirez
Length: 84 minutes
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