Fans of SAUSAGE PARTY and OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY will no doubt enjoy this sometimes outrageous, modern riff on the “father vs. daughter’s boyfriend” premise. Screenwriter John Hamburg (MEET THE PARENTS franchise) pulls double duty as the director in this Focker-like tale of an overprotective dad who meets his daughter’s heavily tattooed and heavily unfiltered boyfriend for the first time.
After Laird Mayhew (James Franco, THE INTERVIEW) bares his tush on girlfriend Stephanie Fleming’s (Zoey Deutch, EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!) video call to her father, Ned (Bryan Cranston, TRUMBO), on his birthday, Ned and the family head out to California to meet the young man in his daughter’s life. Laird definitely doesn’t fit the image that conservative Ned had wanted for a potential son-in-law. Laird is vulgar and unconventional but he also extremely wealthy, having made millions creating video games. Somehow, Ned and Laird have to find common ground if either of them wants to continue having a relationship with Stephanie.
If hearing a few hundred F-bombs and their linguistic cousins for just short of two hours is your idea of funny, then this film is right up your alley. Unfortunately, much like the other raunchy comedies of late, WHY HIM? runs out of steam long before the final credits roll on the screen. Sure, some of the physical gags are amusing and kudos to Franco for doing “free spiritedness” so well (who better than him, really?), but too many of the jokes miss the mark. When they need to be explained to be understood, you know you’re on shaky ground.
After seeing Cranston in serious rolls for a few years now, it’s nice to see him return to his comedic roots, this time playing the straight man to Franco. Unfortunately, I don’t think this film will do much for his box office power. Megan Mullally (TV’s WILL & GRACE), who plays Ned’s wife, Barb, is the film’s delight and I hope we’ll be seeing more of her on the big screen soon.
WHY HIM? is rated Category III for very good reason.
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