Casa De Mi Padre is not a Will Ferrell movie, at least not in the traditional sense. If you’re expecting to see a Spanish-speaking iteration of Ron Burgundy, you’ll be severely disappointed. If, however, you walk into the theater with an open mind, you just might walk away satisfied.
The film centers around Armando Alvarez (Ferrell), a humble rancher who loves his father’s land (played by the great and recently deceased Pedro Armendariz Jr.) who lives the quiet life until his narco brother Raul (Diego Luna) comes back to the ranch. The arrival of Raul– the favorite son– brings mayhem to his father’s ranch in the form of La Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal)– a competing drug dealer intent on protecting his territory– and Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez), his soon to be wife and eventual love interest for Armando.
If the premise of the film sounds absurd and vaguely familiar, that’s because it is. Casa De Mi Padre is equally an homage and a spoof of Latin American telenovelas, and it shows. The characters overact, the music is overtly dramatic, and all the female actresses are ridiculously gorgeous. The whole movie is overtly stereotypical, and that’s the whole point. Besides, if Robert Rodriguez can get away with it why not Will Ferrell & co.
What will throw people off is that despite being the major star of the film, Ferrell isn’t exactly the source of all the laughs. The comedian is too preoccupied properly pronouncing his lines in passable Spanish to be that funny. Instead, the comedic weight is carried by all the secondary actors and several on-screen gags (without spoiling too much, a Jim Henson Company animatronic puppet is in this movie). Watching Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal play competing drug lords is incredibly funny at times, and you can tell that they’ve been working together for a very long time. Also hilarious is the obviously low-budget nature of some of the scenes that seem to be inspired by the trippy movies of Alejandro Jodorowsky.
Mainstream crowds will likely pan this movie, which is a shame. The language barrier and the fact that Ferrell takes the backseat might be too much for some. But if you’re willing to check your expectations at the door, you’ll find that Casa De Mi Padre is actually kind of funny.