Film Review: WHY HIM? (USA 2016). James Franco. Bryan Cranston.

why_him_movie_poster.jpgDirector: John Hamburg
Writers: Jonah Hill (story), John Hamburg (story/screenplay), Ian Helfer (screenplay)
Stars: Zoey Deutch, James Franco, Tangie Ambrose, Bryan Cranston, Cedric the Entertainer, Megan Mullally

Review by Gilbert Seah

There are smart dumb comedies and there are dumb, dumb comedies. WHY HIM? directed and co-written by John Hamburg (who wrote MEET THE PARENTS, MEET THE FOCKERS and the ZOOLANDER movies) falls into the latter category. But all is forgiven for like the hit comedy DUMB AND DUMBER, WHY HIM? is quite funny.

As in MEET THE PARENTS and MEET THE FOCKERS, it is the story of the guy trying to impress his future in-laws. The hitch in WHY HIM? is that the guy is a weird monstrous hip games designer millionaire who swears in every sentence he utters. So will Laird (James Franco) be able to charm his future father-in-law Ned (Brian Cranston) so that he can give him permission to wed Stephanie (Zoey Deutch).

The audience is set up for an all-out gross film with the beginning scene where Laird is close to show Stephanie his almost black blue balls in a video chat. The scene shifts to Stephanie’s dad’s birthday celebration where she is video chatting him when Laird suddenly appears in the background and takes off his pants. There is nothing highly original about this comedic set-up but it still brings on the laughs.

Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) invites her father Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston) and mother Barb (Megan Mullally), along with their 15-year old brother Scott (Griffin Gluck), to stay with her wealthy and famous boyfriend, Laird Mayhew while visiting her at Christmas. Laird’s vulgar, gregarious, and blunt personality is slightly overwhelming for Barb and Scott, but causes Ned to downright despise him. However, Stephanie insists that Laird is a nice person, and that he makes her happy. But when Laird reveals he plans to propose to Stephanie in only five days, the race to prove himself worthy of her love so Ned can give them his blessing begins. Laird goes out of his way to win over Barb and Scott, while Ned schemes to make sure Laird goes down in flames.

Laird throws a Christmas party for the Flemings that goes out of control. But the three minute Christmas party segment puts OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY to shame. The segment moves on fast, furious and funny and generates more laughs in the three minutes that the entire party section in OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY.

For a film about a wild person, the film stays away from lewd scenes. There are no hard core drugs only marijuana and no smoking is shown – only the after effects (the horny mother inching her husband for sex in the bedroom). Swearing, however is plentiful but done in a humorous manner. There are also bukkake and double dicking jokes (but nothing seen) – which the gays in the audience should be familiar with. The film also steals from the Kato and Inspector Clouseau fights in the PINK PANTHER films with Laird’s man-servant, Gustav (Keegan-Michael Key) always laying in wait to fight him. But these scenes are still funny.

Where the film starts to slack is when it gets emotional with the different relationships (father/boyfriend; father/daughter and boyfriend/girlfriend). The ending 20 minutes drags too long and is a bit of a let down considering the fast pace of the rest of the film. There is a surprise appearance of a famous band at the end of the film. Still WHY HIM? succeeds as quite a hilarious though quite a dumb comedy.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CO6qLC4cL8E
 

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