Seems like quite the bold move for Will Ferrell to star in an independent low-budget comedy that requires him to speak entirely in Spanish. Even more surprising is the fact that he actually does a pretty good job, pronouncing many of the words correctly with only a small hint of an American accent. Of course, it's far from perfect and somewhat obvious he struggles slightly with a few bits of the dialogue, but I'm assuming that's just part of the humor in this silly homage to the Mexican cinema of the 1970s. Ferrell noticeably delivers his lines in a leisurely, almost plodding, manner compared to the rest of the cast, who speak with naturally fluid tones, but rather than being a distraction, it adds another layer of humor.
Only time will tell if moviegoers will come to discover 'Casa de mi Padre' and appreciate the creative genius of writer Andrew Steele and director Matt Piedmont, Ferrell's buddies from SNL and the 'Funny or Die' series. Okay, calling it genius is a bit of a stretch, I'll concede to that, but the movie had me laughing from beginning to end, putting it pretty high up there in my book. And granted, Ferrell isn't exactly the next Pedro Infante or even close to the stature of Antonio Aguilar. Perhaps, he can get away with being a spokesperson for Inglés sin Barreras or follow in the footsteps of Eric Estrada as the male lead of a Spanish soap opera. Ferrell could get away with submitting this movie as evidence of his skill for overacting and unrestrained histrionics.
Then again, maybe not. Producers of those shows may not take too kindly to this film's spoof of telenovelas from which several of the jokes flourish, such as the ridiculously melodramatic love triangle between Ferrell's humble farm-boy Armando, his brother Raúl (Diego Luna acting über-sleazy) and his fiancée Sonia (the über-beautiful Génesis Rodríguez, who is herself a soap-opera actress). So, it goes without saying that some familiarity with this type of programming will likely play a big role in your level of enjoyment. This would explain why I found myself readily laughing at one stupid crack after another, including the hilarious jab at America's drug war and unhealthy obsession with fast-food hamburgers. Nick Offerman also joins in on the joke as a DEA agent to balance out the incredible amount of negative stereotypes throughout.
The plot, itself, is not stereotypical as a whole, but it is riddled with a variety of clichés, many performed with a more earnest approach than others, which only makes them funnier. Ferrell's Armando is the heir to his father's (Pedro Armendáriz, Jr.) well-respected ranch, but the poor, dimwitted guy lives in the shadow of younger brother, whose success comes from certain illegalities. With the help of two friends (Efren Ramirez and Adrian Martinez) who show up at the most hilariously convenient moment, Armando has the chance to prove himself when a nearby narcotraficante (drug trafficker), played amusingly Rico Suave-style by Gael García Bernal, threatens his family and kidnaps his love, Sonia. That final shootout is a boisterously satisfying conclusion to everything preceding it, as bodies fall to the ground while trying desperately not to spill their drinks.
Now, to be fair, 'Casa de mi Padre' does come with some not-so funny flaws. (Some, I'm sure, will argue the whole movie is one massive unfunny flaw.) I'm thinking specifically of the talking, animatronic white puma . . . or is it a mountain lion? Those scenes are drastic attempts at milking a few more laughs out of the audience and generally feel out of place, causing an unintended break in the proceedings. The same could be said of the mannequins acting as background extras or body doubles, but I actually like those unexpected pranks and the movie overall makes a fun watch. Way I see it, 'Casa de mi Padre' is a far better and more entertaining spoof of Mexploitation films than Robert Rodriguez's 'Machete,' mostly because it parodies real material. That should give perspective of where I come from and why I genuinely like this low-budget flick.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Lionsgate Home Entertainment offers 'Casa de mi Padre' on a Region A locked, BD50 disc. The Blu-ray is housed inside a blue eco-vortex keepcase with a nice cardboard slipcover. At startup, the disc commences with a series of skippable previews to other movies in the distributor's catalog. Afterwards, viewers are asked to choose between an English or Spanish-language main menu screen. For those fluent in Spanish, the menu options are another great source of hilarity because of the bad translation.
'Casa de mi Padre' rides onto Blu-ray with a stylized but still excellent 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode that'll put some hair in jer chess. The overall palette comes with a strong yellow-amber push to make the picture quality appear slightly faded and aged, but primaries remain nicely rendered, if only on the understated side. Contrast and brightness levels have also been manipulated somewhat, but it's not as apparent as the colors. The video is for the most part well-balanced with clean, crisp whites and fairly deep blacks, except for a few daylight sequences with the darker portions of the image looking a tad muddy and grayish. Fine object and textural details are excellent, however, with sharp, visible lines in costumes, facial complexions and the surrounding architecture.
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is much better than it has any right to be, considering the intentions of filmmakers to recreate a Mexploitation flick. Spoken entirely in Spanish, except for the scenes with the DEA agents, vocals are precise and intelligible. Imaging is excellent with well-balanced channel separation, generating an expansive soundscape that's warm and welcoming. Panning across the soundstage is smooth and convincing, keeping the screen animated for a good deal of the movie's runtime. The rears are also kept active with amusing ambient effects, filling the room with the sounds of wildlife or bullets whizzing overhead. The mid-range is quite dynamic and wide, allowing the overly enthusiastic music to enjoy wonderful, rich clarity in the upper frequencies. The same goes for the surprisingly deep and responsive low-end, providing the songs with enjoyable gravity and the action sequences, especially gunfire, with sharply powerful punches.
Bonus material is the same as the day-and-date DVD.
Depending one's familiarity with Mexican cinema and Spanish-language soap operas, 'Casa de mi Padre' is a hilarious spoof of telenovelas and the Mexican westerns of the 1970s. While the cast does a great job in their clichéd, melodramatic roles, Will Ferrell stands out by speaking only Spanish throughout the entire movie and doing an excellent job at it. The Blu-ray comes with a stylized but still terrific high-def transfer and a great audio presentation. With a decently good selection of supplements, the overall package comes recommended for anyone wanting a good, hearty laugh.