Release Date: December 23, 2016
Director: John Hamburg
Writer: Jonah Hill, John Hamburg, Ian Helfer
Cast: Zoey Deutch, James Franco, Tangie Ambrose, Cedric the Entertainer, Bob Stephenson, Bryan Cranston, Megan Mullally, Zach Pearlman, Griffin Gluck, Jee Young Han, Mary Pat Gleason, Juliette B. Reiss, Melissa Graver, Steffen Dziczek, Jimmy Badstibner, Keegan-Michael Key, Jacob Kemp, Ramy Youssef, Brenda Good, Harrison Bieker, Richard Blais, Kaley Cuoco, Steve Aoki, Greg Worswick
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 111 minutes
Production Company: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 21 Laps Entertainment, TSG Entertainment
You know James Franco (127 Hours) deserves a lot of credit. He really is a chameleon on screen. Not too many actors are talented enough to be nominated for an Academy Award and still have the ability to transition over to roles like pot dealers who make butthole jokes. Yet here he is again, being loud, obnoxious, and hilariously outspoken. The title of the film is brief, letting you know exactly what you’re in for. What’s intriguing is this is an R-rated film that’s raunchy, but will still feel like it’s for everyone. Seeing crude, rude jokes as entertainment can be fun, or a downer depending on your company, but you could honestly watch this with your parents without feeling awkward. It’s a laugh out loud comedy that you won’t forget, will add to your collection, and will make a habit of playing continuously when friends are over.
Every father wants the best for his daughter. Not necessarily a man with all the riches in the world, but a respected individual who has strong moral values and can provide. While the latter is blatantly apparent for Laird (Franco), the former is not exactly what the doctor ordered. That’s where the true beauty of this films lies. Besides all the comedic moments and craziness, on the surface it’s just a story about getting to know someone. Yet Laird doesn’t make that an easy task. It also illustrates how letting go of preconceived notions about a desired outcome can be troublesome. It asks the question of who knows what you really like if you’ve never tried anything else before.
The supporting cast had its moments to shine as well. Cedric the Entertainer was a good friend to Ned, putting him in his place when necessary. The addition of Gustav was a nice treat too. His character is so foreign, and the comedic timing between Laird and Gustav was spot on. It was the random nature that came with his presence that lit the room. It was funny seeing Ned as if he was in the twilight zone. As he lived each day closer to retirement, seeing himself surrounded by everyone so opposite of himself nearly pushed him over the edge. He’s about to lose his mind following rules to the T all his life, and a nightmarish cartoon character wants to marry his daughter. It’s a nice blend of satire, comedy, and realism all mixed in well together.
Laird not having a filter and wanting to put his right foot forward is everything that makes this film great. He just wants to prove himself, but he is always choosing the worst way to express himself. It’s funny because while being a jerk at times, he is not trying to be. He really has a nice heart in the end, but horrible social skills to show it. Everything with him is over the top, and pairing him with his father-to-be, Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston), was remarkable. Ned isn’t asking for much, just a good man for his daughter, and seeing him hold back his rage towards someone that appears to have a willfully dense mindset gives you the giggles. At times, the jokes in the film come off like an onslaught, tagging you left and right to the point where you’ll miss certain jokes. A second viewing is needed just to hear the jokes you missed from laughing hysterically at the others.
What impressed me the most was how it ended. At times, fairytale endings are so predictable it lowers the value of the end product, but here you couldn’t see it coming from a seed planted earlier in the film. It’s a realistic ending that fits, being better than you may have anticipated. Surprisingly, Why Him is one of the funniest films this year. It surely isn’t the best, and it wasn’t trying to be. It knows exactly what it is between the subtle jokes and the ones it knows are over the top. Looking forward to this film, my expectations were met, and I wish the same amount of effort would go into other comedies, instead of the same run of the mill attempts at comedy audiences are often used too.