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I don’t always see mainstream comedies that star Will Ferrell and are in Spanish, but when I do, it’s “Casa de mi Padre.”
The comedy kingpin brought his team of current and former Saturday Night Live writers, including director Matt Piedmont, to parody telenovelas, spaghetti westerns and American DEA agents in Ferrell’s latest film, “Casa de mi Padre.”
On set and in sketches, Ferrell is known as the king of improv, often taking his costars far beyond the script to please the audience. However, because “Casa de mi Padre” forced Ferrell to learn Spanish, his comedy chops are slightly stilted by the language barrier.
He admits that the point of the film was to put an American comedy star in the role of a Mexican rancher with a cast of Spanish speaking actors. Costarring with Ferrell, Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal and Genesis Rodriguez played great roles and were encouraged to throw in their own improv comedy bits to keep Ferrell on his toes.
Being in Spanish with subtitles, the movie forces you to lock in to the plot. The film tells the story of a rancher, Armando (Ferrell), who lives with his father (Pedro Armendariz Jr.). Armando is a simple-minded and sweet man who looks up to his father, but has never been with a woman. His friends joke with him, but it is clear he is romantic at heart. Armando’s brother, Raul (Diego Luna) comes home to show off his new fiance and the Spanish soap opera begins.
The plot of the movie is perhaps a bit long, but it is very involved. Because it is fairly nonsensical, it is difficult to guess where the film is headed. Drug deals, the Pond of the Seven Tears, a talking white panther and lots of violence keep the movie pushing forward until the very end.
The CUIndependent was lucky enough to talk to Ferrell prior to the film’s screening, where he described the film as similar to “Anchorman: The Legend on Ron Burgundy” in that it did not follow the rules of comedy filmmaking. However, unlike “Anchorman,” which relies heavily on the delivery of it’s all-star cast — including Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell and David Koechner — “Casa de mi Padre,” has to rely on physical gags, a campy set and its purposely dated cinematography.
Since the film’s dialogue is in Spanish, I doubt fans will be quoting “Casa de mi Padre” as they did “Anchorman,” but the subtle humor in switching out drinks in each take to make them larger and more fruity is similarly fulfilling. One gag that came up frequently was Armando’s inability to roll a cigarette, often dumping most of the tobacco on the ground or missing the paper completely. The cheap set also sets up the scenes for laughs, such as the obviously fake Pond of the Seven Tears, stuffed animals and numerous mannequins.
Possibly the one quotable line from the film is Nick Offerman’s. Offerman plays an English-speaking DEA agent who is tracking Raul, who is involved with the drug dealers who are committing crimes on his father’s land. While questioning Armando he repeatedly asks, “Do you speak American?” to a deadpan Ferrell who admits that he does not, “speak American.” Offerman then speaks to Armando in Spanish with a very poor accent.
Although Ferrell did not speak Spanish prior to the film, his pronunciation is not the joke of the movie, since he holds his own with his native speaking costars and telenovela star Rodriguez.
“Casa de mi Padre,” which premiered March 16, is nothing less than over-the-top. Did I mention that it contains several cheesy Spanish love songs? “Casa de mi Padre” is a parody, and not a bad one. If you’re looking for something a little different, or an outdoor sex scene composed entirely of butt shots, see “Casa de mi Padre.”
Contact CU Independent Entertainment Editor Anne Robertson at Anne.firstname.lastname@example.org