Will Ferrell speaking Spanish. If ever a comedy could be greenlit on a single sentence, it's that one. Throw in Y Tu Mamá También stars Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna sending up the telenovelas (limited-run soap-style shows) of their native Mexico, telenovelas veteran Genesis Rodriguez (more eye dynamite than candy) as the ¡ay, caramba! love interest and Funny or Die director Matt Piedmont behind the lens, and Casa de Mi Padre looks like it only needs a Luis Guzmán cameo to be a classic. Well, screen-time for the Puerto Rican scene-stealer isn't the only thing missing here, although hardcore Ferrell fans will get some kicks from this south-of-the-border nonsense.
He plays Armando Alvarez, the manchild son of Mexican rancher Miguel Ernesto (Armendáriz Jr), who gets as much credit from dad as the burros out the back. "Like your mother, you have never been very smart," says pops in a bonding moment, "look at your big fat head." Further complicating the father-son relationship is the fact that Armando accidentally killed his mother while trying to protect her and a younger brother, Raul (Luna), who has seemingly become a successful businessman in the US. Oddballs can become heroes, however, and when Raul arrives home with girlfriend Sonia (Rodriguez) and announces they're engaged, not only does she fall for Armando, but he also gets the chance to prove he's not a coward by squaring up to drug lord Onza (García Bernal).
From bad subtitles and continuity errors to mannequins as extras, school play scenery and stuffed animals, Casa de Mi Padre is merciless in its sending up of a genre - think the Chanel 9 sketch from The Fast Show ("bastardo!") on the big screen and you get the idea. Here, sandwiched in between the product placement and production values that make Machete look like Avatar, are two of the wackiest moments in Ferrell's career: a rendition of A Whiter Shade of Pale and a love scene where the camera spends almost the entire time focussed (sort of) on his backside (it's hairy).
The disappointment is that while this movie will make you giddy, at no stage do you ever think you're going to die from laughing. At 84 minutes, Casa de Mi Padre is very slight and when you consider the amount of genius gags that This is Spinal Tap crammed into a shorter running time, and the talent available here... Hell, they didn't even put Efren Ramirez aka Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite to good use!
Wait for the DVD – and hope for three hours of out-takes.