Monday, March 19, 2012

Casa de Mi Padre: 4 Macs

So far, Casa de Mi Padre is the funniest and most enjoyable movie of 2012. People come out after the screening complaining "that was such a stupid movie" as if they were expecting Schindler's List or something. It's Will Ferrell in a Mexican telenovella/spaghetti western film...what do you really expect here?

This low-budget, over-acted, melodramatic spoof succeeds in what it aims to do. Will Ferrells Spanish is impeccable as Armando Alvarez, the dumbwitted yet noble son of Senor Alvarez (Pedro Armendariz). When the prodigal son Raul (Diego Luna) returns home with his beautiful bride to be, Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez), the conflict commences. Armando and Sonia spark it off when their eyes meet, Armando then discovers that Raul is part of the drug crime wave that pollutes his land, and is also a rival of major drug lord Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal).

Both Luna and Garcia, who are close friends in real life look like they had great fun making this movie, and succeed as comic actors. When Armando, Raul and Onza meet at a seedy bar, Armando's buffoonery and social awkwardness is hilarious, he even tries to shake hands with the enemy. Onza smokes Canadian Slims, while Raul I don't think is ever seen without a cigarette in his mouth throughout the entire movie, even when he kisses his bride during the wedding. 

Director Matt Piedmont borrows the style and technique of former spaghetti westerns, but where Sergio Leone or Sergio Corbucci shot on real spectacular locations, using the vast Spanish landscapes, Piedmont, for comical purposes uses fake backgrounds like they used in the classic Hollywood studio system. It is funny, but fails in comparison to the epic stature of the real spaghetti westerns of the 1960s. Piedmont definitely is skilled in his craft and even though shots such as blood dripping from a white rose  or the wedding scene are supposed to mock art film, they are actually done extremely well. 

Casa de Mi Padre clearly pays homage to telenovellas and spaghetti westerns, however I also found myself been reminded of French New Wave or Italian neorealist films. The jump cuts, the odd mise en scene (mannequins), and break of narrative flow all correspond to this notion. And the bizarre talking white cat sequence nearly gives the audience an epilepsy fit.

Will Ferrell is one of the most original comic minds of his generation, he has proved before that he can take on dramatic roles, now he is speaking fluently in Spanish with a nearly all Latin cast. He has had some flops of course, but he never stops trying something new, taking on challenges. In conclusion, this is a very well made, ridiculous comedy, which had the audience laughing all throughout.

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