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Screen » Film

Viva La Ferrell: The return of Will Ferrell and his low-budget laughs


It's seems like forever since funnyman Will Ferrell released a movie worth talking about. With recent mega-duds like Land of the Lost and The Other Guys, my expectations for Ferrell's career were quickly fading. His comedic prowess has drastically dwindled since his classic characters such as NASCAR misfit Ricky Bobby and the legendary anchorman Ron Burgundy. But now, in a movie I was quite skeptical about, he has made me laugh again.

In the ridiculous Casa de mi Padre, Will Ferrell is Armando Alvarez, a vaquero who is viewed as an idiot by his family. His once simple life takes a turn for the interesting upon the return of his drug-dealing brother, Raul. Despite being the favorite son, Raul's homecoming begins to strain the family.

However, the story is almost a side note, complete with stereotypical shoot 'em up ending. We know the protagonist will walk into a heavily-guarded compound where the villainess drug lord hides. With guns blazing, he will save the girl and ride off into the sunset. The real joy is how they make it comical.

To begin with, the film is almost entirely subtitled, and reading the lines is surprisingly funny. Will Ferrell is a convincing Spanish speaker while still preserving the mannerisms that make him so funny. He's great at making a seemingly serious situation hilarious, and with Casa de mi Padre you get 90 minutes of just that.

It's a sarcastic genre comedy driven by low-budget effects, including noticeably painted set pieces and absurd editing inconsistencies, all of which add to the humor. At times, the film looks so amateur that I could only shake my head at its idiocy. Take it all in stride and laugh at its stupidity, because that's the point. Its Blazing Saddles meets Saturday Night Live.

Every scene has several laughable details and, as the film progresses, the details get more and more pronounced. It's as if the filmmakers became lazier as the story wears on. But again, it's all deliberate.

Casa de mi Padre reminds fans of Ferrell why he's one of the best comedians around. He has a natural funny bone. Place him in Mexico, tell him to be a badass, Spanish-speaking cowboy and he'll still gets laughs. These aren't the glory days of his career, but a return to this caliber of comedy could be a very grounding chapter.

While Ferrell's more recent movies seem to dwell on spectacle in an attempt to amplify his humor, this film revolves around him. Hopefully he can find a second wind of creativity that will bring us more memorable characters to join the ranks of Ron Burgundy, Frank "the Tank" and now, Armando Alvarez.

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