By Sam Coyle, Muse Staff Writer
Bienvenidos to the world of Armando Alvarez, where the cattle roam free across the rolling hills of rural Mexico, where los rancheros maintain a complacent life in the outdoors, and where the harmless pleasures of the ranch are slowly being imposed upon by los narcotraficantes, or “drug traffickers.”
In Casa de mi Padre, Will Ferrell plays Armando, a simpleminded cowhand whose goal is to prove his courage to his friends and relatives who constantly label him as cowardly and unintelligent. And aside from self-determination, this story written by Andrew Steele and directed by Matt Piedmont (both former writers for SNL) packs in as many morals as possible featuring patriotism, loyalty and true love. But they pack in too much, which is the essence of this film’s humor. Exaggeration and strenuous parody is what turns this stereotypical Hispanic drama into an absurdly hilarious mockery, filled with blatantly inconsistent sets, overly tense dialogue and fast-paced character development. Oh, and the entire movie is en Español!
Sí, Señor, by far the most impressive and comical aspect of this film is actually watching Ferrell speak Spanish the whole time (and he’s pretty good). At first, the idea seemed completely ridiculous, but after ten minutes, the audience gets used to it and begins to realize how ingenious this parody is. By extracting this well-known comedic actor from the realm of typical American humor and placing him in a much more specific niche, he was able to expand his own quirks to a genre that most Americans would never expect. Not only does this movie have an immediate shock factor, but it also can expand to a wider array of audiences.
Although the movie’s main goal is to poke fun at classic Hispanic telenovelas, the casting adds quite a lot of legitimacy that truly brings out the film’s laughable nuances.
Steele made sure to completely disregard any screenwriting standards by including severely overdramatic lines mixed with an unrealistic story progression. The movie also emphasized the low-budget feeling by including stark discrepancies on the set to really make the story completely unbelievable. Contrary to what many American viewers may recognize, however, the cast of Casa consists of some of the most famous Spanish-speaking actors such as Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, Génesis Rodríguez, and the late Pedro Armendáriz, Jr. While Will Ferrell was learning to speak Spanish from these dramatic actors, they were building off Ferrell’s humor, which was essential to capturing the ridiculous nature to this simple humor.
Even though Ferrell may have worked hard on preparing for this role to build up his fluency in Spanish, this film won’t be found anywhere close to an award. Its purpose is purely to make both Mexicans and Americans laugh about this genre, and it does it very well. Although the movie has not received too much publicity, it deserves to be given some recognition for its unique brand of comedy, which could possibly open a door for Ferrell. What’s next? Chinese?