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I’m sure that many of you hate Will Ferrell. This is an opinion that, while I do not share, I respect. Historically, his comedy has been loud, boorish, and idiotic. Stranger Than Fiction proved that he can play other roles; the humor in that movie was dark and off-beat,  with some traditional rom-com aspects and none of his usual wide-eyed shouting and self-importance humor. Did he shout something quotable about glass cases of emotion, or Santa, in that movie? Not to my recollection.   Casa de Mi Padre is does not quite reach the same heights of maturity as Stranger than Fiction, but it does not go all the way back to Ferrell’s iconic shouting idiocy. The movie is certainly wacky, but it avoids the dubious distinction of “screwball”.

In essence, Casa de Mi Padre is a spoof of Mexican soap operas. But it seems more to be drawn from traditional spoofs of Mexican soap operas than from the soaps themselves. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it makes the film accessible to an audience who does not really watch those telenovellas. The plot is intentionally over-simplistic and semi-coherent. Will Ferrell plays Armando Alvarez, a man who stands to inherit his father’s ranch – the titular Casa. He is, however, kind of stupid. Not in an overbearing way like Ferrell so often is; He is no Ron Burgundy or Buddy The Elf. He is simply not that bright; the classic simple farmhand with a Will Ferrell flair.  The absolute high point of the movie is the song that he and his friends, whose names I never caught, sing about it, “Yo No Se”. The song is about how little they know, with a chorus consisting of the line delightfully translated as “for I am a simple ranchero”.

Armando’s brother, the beloved prodigal son, comes home, involved in the drug business, with a fiancée who immediately falls in love with Armando. The plot goes from there, intentionally and inherently predictable. The characters are all lifted straight out of The Archetype Directory, because that is the point. The Simple Ranchero; the Drug Mogul who loves his family; The Wilting Beauty With A Dark Past; The Father Who Loves The Prodigal Son; The Needlessly Evil Villains. These tropes are well executed, well integrated, and serve as they should: to give the gags a context.

The purpose and hook of the movie are not the plot or characters: the movie is a delivery method for gags. And what gags! The Cigarette Bits which flow throughout the movie are the best. I do not want to spoil any of them, because describing them would robt hem of their strength. Armando’s consistent and mostly unremarked failure to roll a cigarette is the simplest and longest running of the gags. The dialogue about selling drugs to Americans which culminates in calling Americans “shit-eating crazy monster babies” is possibly the hardest I have laughed in a movie theatre in a long while, though I haven’t been to many movies in a long while.

While I am one of these wretches who does consistently like Will Ferrell – to my great shame, I even enjoyed Blades of Glory, though Will Arnett and Amy Poehler were what carried the flick – I do not think that this biased why I and my movie-going companion laughed throughout the entire movie. It was the writing and the gags – sight gags, plot gags, and filmic gags –  which carry the movie. Will Ferrell is simply the ideal vessel for these gags, with his ability to be understatedly overstated. The subtleties of the film are its greatest strengths; Mannequins appear in lieu of actual characters at completely random intervals, with no attention called to this fact. Sets vary wildly and inconsistently between shot-on-location and shot-in-front-of-matte-paintings-or-green-screens.

Don’t see it if you dislike gratuitous, obviously fake violence. The blood is almost clear and obviously fake, but it is abundant. Seriously, just – just go give this movie your money. Er, well, go ahead and wait for the DVD or Blu-Ray or the Netflix Instant Streaming. It’s not really important to see it on the big screen.

Also I should warn you that there is an extended scene where we see Will Ferrell’s ass. It is a better ass than I would have expected, but it is still not especially not Will Ferrell’s ass. The scene is a (beginning-of) sex scene between Ferrell and Genesis Rodriguez, who I do not mind telling you I did enjoy seeing the ass of. This is also the funniest sex scene in a movie since the Puppet Sex in Team America: World Police.

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