Film Reviews

Casa de Mi Padre: Will Ferrell goes espanol

Rogue comic Will Ferrell recently turned up on an Old Milwaukee commercial exclusively for the Davenport, Iowa local market; the obvious next career move, then, is Casa de Mi Padre, a modern-day tortilla Western/telenovela spoof entirely in Spanish. Squinting into the middle distance with "the eyes of a small chicken" and expressively mangling hand-rolled cigarettes, Ferrell plays Armando Alvarez, dull-witted son of a widowed rancher (Pedro Armendáriz Jr.) whose preferred heir, brother Raul (Diego Luna), has turned to drug trafficking, sparking a violent turf war with rival dealer Onza (Gael García Bernal). There has always been a flamboyant, sartorial element to Ferrell's comedy, and it's clear that he and director Matt Piedmont, a former Saturday Night Live writer, love the melodrama they're parodying: The protracted death scenes and abrupt musical numbers, streaming golden light, Catholic-Mayan iconography, and blood-splattered white roses. Casa de Mi Padre riffs freely on impoverished production values — phony painted backdrops and the reflection of the camera crew in a DEA agent's sunglasses — but the humor doesn't target only south of the border. Like any good genre product, Casa also smuggles in rude social criticism, as when Armando memorably describes drug-addicted Americans as "shit-eating crazy monster babies."

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Nick Pinkerton