Perhaps credit is due Will Ferrell and the makers of Casa de Mi Padre for a comedy that is unlike anything we’ve seen before.
However, it’s difficult to direct too much praise toward a project this hit-or-miss and haphazard, a subtitled Spanish-language lampoon of everything from Mexican telenovelas to Western “B” movies.
It basically is an exercise in lunacy from Ferrell along with director Matt Piedmont and screenwriter Andrew Steele, two of his cohorts from the online series of “Funny or Die” comedic shorts.
The film feels like an extension or a toss-off from a short film that hardly contains enough material for a feature, with most of it just random silliness that offers scattered big laughs without much consistency.
Ferrell’s role is entirely in Spanish, as he plays Armando, who sees an opportunity to save his father’s ranch from bankruptcy when his brother, Raul (Diego Luna) returns home with a new girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez).
However, one of Raul’s business deals falls apart, leaving him and the dim-witted Armando as targets for a notorious drug lord (Gael Garcia Bernal), meaning the squabbling siblings must save each other before they can rescue the family.
It’s a gleefully low-brow parody with a broad comic target. Certainly it’s not for all tastes, and might easily grow tiresome for those who don’t get the joke.
Ferrell’s presence might be the most interesting thing about Casa de Mi Padre. It’s nice to see him taking on something different, even audacious, including the difficulty required to learn an entire script’s worth of Spanish dialogue. Then again, he mugs through a mostly ill-conceived enterprise that could have been just as funny with someone else in the lead role.
The rest of the cast seems to be having fun, including longtime buddies Garcia Bernal and Luna. The opening-credit sequence set to an original song by Christina Aguilera shows some imagination, and the gritty visual approach is clever.
Still, much of this material seems funnier in concept than execution, turning into a collection of throwaway gags and otherwise bizarre detours to pad the abbreviated running time, including a doozy following the closing credits that’s worth sticking around for.
Rated R, 84 minutes.