March 20, 2012 by Vinnie Leduc
It looks like a joke, and it probably should’ve stayed as one. Casa de mi Padre is the new Will Ferrell comedy that’s subtitled in English… because it’s mostly spoken in Spanish. Sounds like a joke, right? While it’s a gimmick that could be really funny (and occasionally was), Casa de mi Padre also sounds like a hard sell, so it’s no surprise that the film, which tries to imitate the style of telenovelas, has only gotten a limited release.
The low-budget production is full of deliberately dated effects, such as prop dummies, Disneyland-style animatronics, looped and missing clips, painted backdrops, shameless advertising (including the mid-credits and post credits scenes), and intentional goofs like crew sightings and distorted audio. There’s even an establishing shot made out of models and toys, à la the introduction to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
I enjoyed Will Ferrell’s performance, a slightly quieter version of Brendan Fraser’s Colombian kingpin failed wish in Bedazzled. Ferrell’s Spanish would’ve been more impressive if he wasn’t surrounded by native speakers like Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna. Also part of the supporting cast are Efren Ramirez, Génesis Rodríguez, and Nick Offerman.
The movie’s subtitles could have been translated better to be more comical. For example, Offerman’s gringo DEA agent at one point says in heavily American-accented Spanish, “Me llamo es Parker.” The additional “es” is a common mistake made by people learning the language because “Me llamo” is roughly the equivalent of “My name is”, but it actually translates to “I call myself.” The subtitles read “My name is Parker”, which is what the character is trying to say, but the subtle joke is literally lost in translation unless you speak Spanish semi-fluently. Look at that… I’m a Mexican grammar hammer.
Casa de mi Padre must’ve been a funny idea late one night around a bong and/or booze because as a feature-length film, it’s simply not enough. Yeah, some of the ridiculously over-dramatic moments and subtle gags had me smiling or laughing, but many of the jokes last too long, maybe because there’s barely over an hour of real content. It would’ve worked better as a Saturday Night Live skit, which sucks to say for rookie director Matt Piedmont, previously an Emmy-winning SNL writer. If you really want to check out Casa de mi Padre, wait for it on Redbox or Netflix and watch it in tu casa instead. Casa de mi Padre gets 2.5 out of 5 stars or C+ or Okay.