Monday, December 26, 2016

Wanna see "Why Him?" I say Why Not?

Why Him? Review
With a movie like "Why Him?" you already know the outcome whether you realize it or not. An unconventional choice for a father's daughter seeking the approval of said choice is a trope in Hollywood more common than we sometimes realize. We've seen "Meet The Parents." We've seen "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?" We've seen everything in between."Why Him?" is a variation of this story. Bryan Cranston is a loving family man who takes his wife and son to visit their daughter out in California to meet her boyfriend. The boyfriend (James Franco) is a rambunctious man (to put it mildly) who doesn't seem to be a good fit for his daughter. But Franco plans to prove himself throughout the film.  I could spoil everything about the movie "Why Him?" and you wouldn't feel spoiled. Because this is how these movies work. "Why Him?" plays out exactly as you'd think it would play out.

So why see it?

Well, for movies that exist as mere reflection of a particular formula, you can only hope for something unexpected. Despite this formula, I went into "Why Him?" with an open mind. Hoping I'd see something that would make it worth seeing, make it worth recommending. I am happy to report that "Why Him?" has some content that was unexpected. It's a lot funnier than the previews for the film would make you believe. This is a comedy where all the funny moments aren't lost in the previews. There is a bag of tricks to play with if only you go looking. And no, the film isn't just unhinged, raunchy comedy. That is certainly a factor with this film, but its not the entire picture. There is offbeat humor here, there is quick humor here, and there is flat-out slapstick stuff in here too. There is a good gag or joke for any type of comedy lover. Its a little surprising how most of the film isn't really raunchy. And for a film where a family stays at a house where every wall features art of animals performing intercourse, that's kind of crazy.

The humor works well because everybody does good work here. I have always loved Bryan Cranston as a performer. Yes, he's a great drama man, he'll always be a good drama man. But let's not forget that he's got a fun side too. The first thing I remember seeing Cranston in was "Malcolm In The Middle," so knowing that Cranston can do anything was ingrained in my brain at a young age. He does good work as a father who just wants what's best for her daughter, even though that over-obsession ends hurting more than it helps. The best James Franco performances are those where he's a big, giant goofball. My favorite Franco performances is Saul from "Pineapple Express." Franco is kind of channeling Saul to a certain degree here. But not by much, this is a completely original character for Franco and he does good work here.

The rest of the cast is solid too. Megan Mullaly plays Cranston's wife and she particularly sticks out here. There is moment where her character has just inhaled marijuana and her moment with Cranston afterward is pretty close to perfect. You'll know it when you see it. Keegan-Michael Key shows up as Franco's characters assistant and he has several scenes in this film worth seeing. The cast really brings the film together.

Yes, there is a formula to "Why Him?" But any movie that tries to go above and beyond the call of duty, even within familiar territory, deserves some recognition. So many movies like to play things safe, keep things moving along just to make some easy money. But "Why Him?" doesn't feel like its completely cut from the same cloth as the other films in its corner, so for that reason, its worth checking out.

FINAL GRADE: B 

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