FUNNYMAN Ferrell adds some Mexican madness to cinemas this week in the Spanish language melodramedy Casa De Mi Padre.
Life for Armando (Will Ferrell) is spent caring for his father’s cattle farm (while desperately trying to win his affection).
But when his favoured brother Raul (Diego Luna) returns to the family home with beautiful senorita Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez), Armando’s life starts to fall apart when he discovers the source of his brother’s wealth is through dishonest means.
Hunted by the evil drug baron Onza (Gael García Bernal) and with emotions flaring, can Armando save his family and the house of his father?
Taking its cues from Mexican melodramas, Casa De Mi Padre revels in its overly dramatic premise and low budget aesthetic.
Passions run high in every relationship, excessively sinister villains are easy to spot, and flimsy set pieces wobble to great effect.
Although the Spanish soap-esque stories are not so familiar to British audiences compared to American viewers, the shoe-string look doesn’t fail to entertain.
Subtitle-phobes beware. Ferrell - who learned Spanish specifically for the film - manages to spin what could have been a five minute sketch (‘American comic tackles Mexican melodrama and doesn’t speak a word of English’) into a full length feature without getting stale.
Convincing in both dialect and performance, his good-natured Armando balances sweetness and idiocy (a Ferrell staple).
But it is the language barrier which both gives Casa de mi Padre its innovative hook and is the primary cause of its weaknesses.
Unable to embark on his trademark improvisation, Ferrell is a prisoner within his foreign tongue; stifling any moments of inspired brilliance on his part.
Thankfully his support comes in the form of a native speaking cast who play it straight to great effect (Gael García Bernal’s poker-faced smoking technique a particular highlight).
Director Matt Piedmont drops subtle touches throughout the grindhouse-esque offering.
From dodgy jump-cuts and awkwardly prolonged scenes, to unconvincing sets and ‘blink and you miss it’ prop switches - he keeps the cast playing it serious to great effect.
Casa de mi Padre is unlikely to go down as a Ferrell classic, but between its novel premise and probably the greatest love scene of 2012, there is enough to tickle most ribs.
6/10 - Mexican madness.
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