March 16, 2012 by Anne Most
When you sit down to watch a Will Ferrell movie, there are a number of things you can expect: plenty of humorous vulgarity, irony, chaos and an altogether good time. Ferrell’s latest movie, “Casa de Mi Padre,” releases in select theaters in the U.S. March 16 with Pantelion Films, meeting all of the expectations of a Ferrell movie with a unique twist.
The film, starring Ferrell, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, and directed by Matt Piedmont, is completely unique from films such as “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” and “Step Brothers” in that it is completely in Spanish, accompanied by English subtitles.
This mock-telenovela revolves around Armando Alvarez (Ferrell), a man dedicated to his father’s ranch in Mexico, who gets caught in the middle of a war between Mexican drug lord Onza (Bernal) and Armando’s brother Raul Alvarez (Luna). “Casa de Mi Padre” not only treats its audience to plenty of action and comedy, but also features romance thanks to the beautiful Sonia, played by Genesis Rodriguez. Armando finds himself in a tangled web of love as he, Raul and Onza fight over Sonia.
Admittedly, I was a bit apprehensive about Ferrell speaking in Spanish, afraid that he wouldn’t be able to pull it off. Ferrell did not fail to surprise me, speaking very clear and concise Spanish with a believable accent.
“I didn’t want the joke of this movie to be that I spoke Spanish poorly, so I was really focused on as good a pronunciation as I possibly could, and then of course, memorizing in a foreign language is a whole other aspect as well,” Ferrell said in a phone conference.
What makes this film funny is that it is overly dramatized. If you have ever watched an old Western telenovela, take that and multiply it by 100, and you get “Casa de Mi Padre.” Equipped with painfully fake sets, cut film and a cheesy script, you can’t help but laugh — it was all completely intentional.
“The whole telenovela style and genre is so over-the-top that it was fairly easy to kind of mimic and put yourself in that zone. … I just knew that the more dramatic I could be, the more serious I could be, that would probably play funny,” Ferrell said.
Piedmont, who worked with Ferrell on Saturday Night Live as a writer, aimed to give the film a “throwback feel,” according to Ferrell, using Mexican westerns from the 1960s and ’70s as references. Piedmont also used old-fashioned lenses from Panavision for classic Western visual effects. According to Ferrell, this was Piedmont’s first full-length motion picture.
Another unique aspect of the film was that the main cast was primarily made up of Hispanic actors, making Ferrell stick out like a sore thumb. Ferrell, who has been placed in the “Frat Pack” with the likes of Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller, said that he found acting with the predominantly Hispanic cast added to the unique quality of the film.
“I felt like you hadn’t seen an American comedian … commit to a foreign-language movie, … the premise being that I would be the only gringo in the cast and it would be an entire Hispanic cast,” Ferrell said.
Additionally, working with a Hispanic cast helped Ferrell to immerse himself into his role as Armando.
Ferrell did step into familiar waters, going back to his Saturday Night Live days with a cameo by former Saturday Night Live cast member Molly Shannon. Nick Offerman, best known for his role as Ron Swanson in the NBC hit show “Parks and Recreation,” was also featured in the film as Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Parker. Some may see Offerman’s character as a stab at Americans, as the cocky Agent Parker smugly stands on the sidelines, watching the drug-dealing world implode on itself.
Ferrell praised the film, stating that it coincides with films such as “Anchorman” because both films veer as far away from mainstream comedy as possible.
“I think [“Casa de Mi Padre”] will be a pleasant surprise because you literally don’t know where the movie is going at any moment. … I’m very proud of it in the sense that it’s absurd in quality … where we throw all the rules out of the window,” Ferrell said.
If you have a soft spot for old Mexican Westerns and Will Ferrell, then “Casa de Mi Padre” is the perfect film for you.
“I think people who are coming to see something different will be fully satisfied,” Ferrell concluded.