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Casa de mi Padre (2012)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 7/17/2012
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/10/2012
Here's a great example of irony for you. In the movie Talladega Nights, Will Ferrell's character Ricky Bobby didn't know the translation of the Spanish word "diablo". In Anchorman, Will Ferrell's character Ron Burgundy didn't know the translation for the Spanish name "San Diego". Now, Ferrell is starring in a film which is completely in Spanish. The question is, did he understand what he was saying and would that have made Casa de mi Padre any better?
Ferrell stars in Casa de mi Padre as Armando Alvarez, a simple man who lives and works in the ranch owned by his father, Migeul (Pedro Armendariz Jr.). Armando spends most days tending the cattle with ranch hands Esteban (Efren Ramirez) and Manuel (Adrian Martinez). Armando is very excited when his brother, Raul (Diego Luna), returns home, bringing his girlfriend, Sonia (Genesis Rodriquez) along. Armando is immediately struck by Sonia's beauty and he finds her easy to talk to. However, he's also very surprised to learn that Raul is now a drug dealer and that he's come home to challenge Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal), the local drug kingpin. Will Armando be able to save his brother and declare his love for Sonia?
Say what you will about Will Ferrell -- he's had a very diverse career and he rarely makes two films which are alike (although, Talladega Nights and Anchorman make good companion pieces), and Casa de mi Padre is certainly a different movie. How many big-name Hollywood stars would not only star in, but be the driving force behind a low-budget niche film which is not in English? Ferrell has clearly reached a point in his career where he feels free to experiment.
But, this experiment returns very negative results. Casa de mi Padre clearly wants to be a spoof film, but as we've learned from the likes of The Naked Gun films and the Scary Movie series, spoofs must have a direct target and I don't think that this movie has one. On the surface, it appears to be a take off on the popular "telenovella" Spanish-language soap operas, as it features larger-than life characters, expansive Mexican scenery, and love-triangles. However, if this is truly the case, the movie misses the mark by being too earnest. Outside of an absurd subplot involving Armando's spirit guide, Casa de mi Padre is played very straight. The plot is laid out in a linear fashion and it all makes sense, never diverting from a fairly standard dramatic plotline. Apparently, someone involved in the movie thought that it was a send-up of something, as there are very few jokes in the movie. I spotted one funny line and a few sight gags and that was about it. I could show you clips from about 95% of the movie and you would think that it was a serious movie, save for Ferrell's presence. And as if Ferrell appearing in this movie isn't weird enough, the movie also has the distinction of being a comedy which forgot to include jokes.
The only jokes which feature a clear-cut concentration at the special effects presented in the film. Stuffed animals, mannequins, and miniatures suddenly appear in the film, and little is done to hide the fact that they aren't real and that they are shoddily done. Is this spoofing a specific part of Mexican cinema of which I'm not familiar? Or is this a ribbing of low-budget filmmaking in general? Either way, these deliberately crude effects offer the only real laughs in the movie and a gag involving a calf comes in the first scenes...and it's the funniest moment in the movie. Ferrell's movies have exhibited strange senses of humor in the past, but Casa de mi Padre goes beyond this, creating a world where humor barely exists.
The Blu-ray Disc box for Casa de mi Padre declares "From the Gringos who Brought You Anchorman", but don't be fooled like this. Ferrell appears in the movie and he and partner Adam McKay served as producers, but Director Matt Piedmont and Writer Andrew Steele, both of whom are veterans of Saturday Night Live are at the helm of this movie. Speaking of Saturday Night Live, this spoof of "telenovellas", which featured a very masculine baby, was much funnier than this movie. Again, I applaud Ferrell for doing something different and I have to assume that someone out there will be more in tune with the genre which this movie is lampooning, but most viewers will be bored and confused by this Mexican soap opera starring that guy from Step Brothers.
Casa de mi Padre made me glad to see Pedro getting work on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 35 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear. The movie does go for a "grindhouse" look at times, and we get some grain or defects from the source material, but these are rare. Much of the film takes place outside in the daytime and these bright scenes are free from grain which is overly distracting. The colors look good, although the palette definitely skews towards whites and Earth tones. The picture is never overly dark or bright. We get a good amount of depth here, as the actors are clearly separated from the background. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. (FYI, there is no English track.) The movie contains a few action scenes and these provide good surround sound effects. In fact, given the silly bad special effects in the movie, I was sort of surprised by how good the audio was at times. The stereo effects are nicely done as well, and show good stereo separation. Some of the gunshots provide notable subwoofer effects.
The Casa de mi Padre Blu-ray Disc contains an assortment of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Matt Piedmont, Writer Andrew Steele and Will Ferrell. "The Making of Casa de mi Padre" (16 minutes) contains interviews with the cast and some on-set footage. Ferrell gives some details about the origin of the film, but not enough. We need specific examples and details on exactly what the goal of this movie was. The Disc contains ten DELETED SCENES which run about 20 minutes. Many of these are new scenes, while others offer new moments from scenes in the movie. However, there are no treasures here, as they simply offer more detailed elements of the story. "Pedro Armendariz Final Interview" is a 4-minute talk with the actor who died before the film was released. We get the MUSIC VIDEO for the song "Fight for Love" by Will Ferrell and Genesis Rodriguez. Finally, we get three fake "Comerciales" which run 3 minutes. These aren't very funny either.
Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long