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October 2012

Casa de mi Padre on blu-ray

cast: Will Ferrell, Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Genesis Rodriguez, and Efren Ramirez

director: Matt Piedmont

84 minutes (15) 2012
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
StudioCanal blu-ray region B

RATING: 2/10
review by Donald Morefield

Casa de mi Padre

Mexican rancher Armando (Will Ferrell, Anchorman) falls in love with his younger brother's alluring fiancée Sonia (glamorous Genesis Rodriguez, Man On A Ledge). However, the ranch is in debt and the brothers get into serious trouble with ruthless and vicious drug lord Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal, Babel).

Directed by Saturday Night Live alumni Matt Piedmont, Casa de mi Padre (trans: House Of My Father) is filmed in Spanish with English subtitles. A Mexican modern western, it starts off and remains stuck in a rut of mirthless dialogue like stale farting. It attempts a few Tarantinoesque flourishes that can only wither on a grindhouse grapevine.

Musical numbers are achingly dull, bereft of genuine humour or any heart. A Peckinpah bloodbath interrupts the wedding ceremony, and the splatter is reprised for a vengeful shootout finale - where trying so hard to make Farrell into a grim-faced Charles Bronson styled action hero just shows how quite grindingly hopeless this film is because of its star's complete lack of acting ability, or split-second accurate comic timing in the manner of Steve Martin or Chevy Chase.

Dying is easy, comedy is hard.

Purposely artificial sets and cheesy fake special effects work add nothing to this film's blithely vacuous appeal. The retro approach can be a blessing, as we saw in Norwegian Ninja, and Machete, but here it is a jinx on all the jokes, etching lines when it should be painting scenes, carving in stone when a lighter touch might have worked, becoming a millstone around the hanged man's neck, to drag this witless farce down to a level so far below pantomime sketch rejects that it can only be reached via mineshaft.

Yes, every lame gag is overworked and tortured beyond its ability to amuse us - even slightly. The charmless wasteland of Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles (1974) is a superior entertainment, while Robert Rodriguez's movies in his great 'Mexico trilogy' (from indie El Mariachi, and Desperado, to Once Upon A Time In Mexico, 1992 - 2003), simply leaves this flavourless and artistically crippled pastiche in their dust.

Disc extras: making-of featurette, an interview with one of the supporting cast, some deleted scenes, a Fight For Love music video, and bogus TV adverts for products like cigarettes and beer.



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