Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Movie Review: "Why Him?" (2016)

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Movie"Why Him?"
Director: John Hamburg
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 51 minutes

The Fleming family heads out to California to spend Christmas with their daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch), who has been attending Stanford University. They are also going to meet her boyfriend Laird (James Franco), who isn't quite what they expected.

"Why Him?" is directed by John Hamburg, who also wrote the film along with Ian Helfer and Jonah Hill. It stars Bryan Cranston as Ned Fleming, the owner of a struggling printing company. He is married to Barb, played by Megan Mullally, and together, they have a teenage son named Scotty, played by Griffin Gluck, who wants to follow in his father's footsteps and take over the family business one day. They also have a daughter in her early 20's named Stephanie, played by Zoey Deutch, who is attending Stanford University. While away at college, she has fallen for a guy named Laird Mayhew, played by James Franco, who is the millionaire inventor of a smartphone app. He is also very free spirited with no social filter. This Christmas, Ned and the family are flying to California to spend the holiday with their daughter and Laird so they can meet him and see what he's like, though it becomes quickly clear that midwestern Ned isn't exactly ready for the boisterous, f-bomb-laden Laird and his approach to life and relationships.

This is very much a "Meet the Parents"/"Father of the Bride" type of comedy with a lot of awkwardly funny situations where a father doesn't trust his daughter’s choice in men. Ned, who is a simple, old fashioned kind of guy and is a person who is somewhat reserved, is a fish out of water in Laird's high tech, outgoing, fast paced world. Laird, being a wealthy tech guy, spares no expense in trying to make a genuinely good impression on Stephanie's family, but it is all a little too much for Ned. It doesn't help that every other word out of Laird's mouth is a profanity word. To be honest, it doesn't help the comedy much either. Since the f-bombs come in such an endless stream, they lose whatever shock or comedic value they were meant to have after about 30 seconds. We become numb to the words after the 200th time they are used. "Why Him?" has some standard comedic tropes, like the out-of-touch old man who doesn't know the Urban Dictionary definition of words like bukkake, and the overly simple 30-something person from the internet era who, because he's a techy millennial, has never heard common expressions like "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Of course, once you weed through the sea of vulgarity, Cranston and Franco are quite charming and offer up a few big laughs in a mostly pedestrian comedy. Keegan-Michael Key also has some outrageous moments as well, one in particular which is downright hilarious, as his character Gustav must assist Ned while he on a high tech Japanese toilet. Megan Mullally also gets a chance to shine, most notably when she is trying to seduce her husband while stoned out of her mind. She also has a fantastic wit to the way she delivers her dialogue, which makes her part all the more humorous. That being said, for as many funny high points as there are, "Why Him?" also has some huge lows. There are many moments that are just flat out eye-rolling, groan-worthy, and easily predictable. Many times, the plot is unimaginative and we know where where the gag going and can see it coming from miles away.

In the end, "Why Him?" may have you laughing just enough to justify the cost of a movie theater ticket. Still, even if you like Franco, Cranston, Mullally, or Deutch, we say it might be better to wait and watch this one as a rental.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 40%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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