film review

Review | Why Him – 2016

Little girls grow up. That’s what father Ned Fleming has to deal with. On his fiftieth birthday Ned is confronted with the boyfriend of his daughter Stephanie for the first time. However, this Laird leaves nothing but a good impression. Stephanie invites her parents and brother to spend the Christmas holidays in sunny California, with the reason to meet Laird. However, Ned is nowhere positive about Laird or his business and  the holiday gathering threatens to go off the rails.

The comedy Why Him is both directed and co-written by John Hamburg, who has also contributed to the comedies I Love You Man and Meet the Parents. In addition, actor Jonah Hill has co-written the script and therefore you can expect that the level of humor is good. The main characters are played by James Franco and Bryan Cranston. Cranston was very successful in the Breaking Bad series, but since the ending of the series in 2013 Cranston didn’t really ave much successful roles. Also in this film he struggles with his reputation as drug criminal Walter White. Nothing negative about his performances, but Cranston was more credible as “The one who knocks” than the worried father. Franco plays his role as billionaire Laird Mayhew as we know him: in a very amusing way with the famous facial expressions. 

The part of the daughter is played by Zoey Deutch. Her name doesn’t ring a bell immediately, but she is not exactly a newcomer. In addition, she also plays a part in the film Before I Fall, which premiered last week. Of all the roles, Deutch’s role as daughter Stephanie is the least strong one. Compared to her wild and cross-legged friend Laird, she comes across as a very innocent and sweet girl, which doesn’t match at all. A very familiar face/voice is Megan Mullally in the role of mother Barb. She may look a bit different, but her voice is immediately recognizable as Karen Walker from the sitcom Will & Grace. Mullally plays her role as Barb with lots of humor and she doesn’t really seem to worry about her daughter’s new love, despite the cursing and first bad impression.

The film follows a fairly original concept, but is filled with the necessary clichés. It gives a look at the father-daughter band and investigates if that bond holds when the daughter falls for a boy who is not the first choice of the father. It is obvious that in this comedy their relationship is stronger than that. Although there are some difficulties, the end is logical and predictable. However, this doesn’t rally bother, as the actions during the film are quite amusing and the whole stay of Zoey’s parents is an adventure in its own way. Zoey dates a wealthy IT man, which can be seen everywhere in the paperless and luxurious house of Laird. This fact leads to the necessary fun moments during dinner and toilet visits. Especially the moment when Ned finds out that the house is paperless and is in need of Laird’s right hand Gustav, is really hilarious. 

The character Gustav is played by Keegan-Michael Key, who is often the reason you have a smile on your face. Another nice addition is “The lady in the ceiling”. As a rich and famous IT guy, you have access to a lot of technical gadgets, as well as a smart personal assistant with the voice of Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory). She remembers everything for you and can respond to funny situations, such as turning on the air conditioning during a toilet visit. A nice addition is the presence of the band Kiss, where both the parents and Stephanie are a fan of. The humor may be quite faint for some, but generally the movie is quite entertaining. However, Why Him is not a spectacular film and leaves no long impression. 

In general, the comedy Why Him knows to amuse you. Even for more than one time. The film follows a fairly original concept, though with the necessary clichés that makes the film somewhat predictable. The humor is on the faint side but those who appreciate that will definitely have some good laughing moments. Unfortunately, it lacks a little on the qualities of the actors. Where James Franco and Keegan-Michael Key leave a good and funny impression, the star of Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston and the actress who plays his daughter, Zoey Deutch, can not convince. 

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