Casa de Mi Padre19 June, 2012
Case de Mi Padre, translated to House of My Father for those that no habla español, places a very familiar face in Will Ferrell in very unfamiliar territory, south of the border. The movie is spoken entirely in Spanish, with only a handful of exceptions, yet still delivers the goofy essence we are accustomed to seeing from him proving that humor does translate.
The film follows Armando Alvarez (Ferrell) the dim-witted son of a rancher who is facing money troubles and may have to give up his farm as a result. It is then that Armando’s beloved, business savvy brother Raul returns to save the ranch.
He brings with him his beautiful girlfriend Sonia, who ignites “la pasion de Armando” (the passion of Armando. It’s called Rosetta Stone people.) She also brings with her the threat of the Onza, a Mexican drug lord who sets his sights on the ranch and the two brothers.
It is extremely rare to see a movie in another language make it to the American big screen. It is even rarer for that film to be a comedy and it is like finding a piece of sand in a haystack for that film to star a comedian of Ferrell’s caliber. But it really doesn’t seem that odd.
Like many of Ferrell’s films Casa centers around the absurd. Whether it is double wielding cigars or talking to a stuffed tiger, the film constantly makes fun of itself as it parodies the Spanish persona to a T.
Ferrell said he can’t exactly place when the idea came into his head but slowly it began to grow. “The idea of putting an American comedian into a foreign film just seemed really funny to me,” he said. “I would watch telenovelas from about 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” he joked. “I’m not a crazy person.”
True to the language, the cinematography of the film is foreign as well. Marking the directorial debut of Matt Piedmont, the film aims to provide a throw ack feel as is typical in many Spanish films and especially the telenovela format.
Ferrell, Piedmont, and writer Andrew Steele are quite familiar with each other. They first worked together during Ferrell’s years at Saturday Night Live and again with Ferrell’s brain child Funny or Die.
“You always want to work with old friends,” Ferrell explained. “It just fit perfectly to work with Matt and Andrew. It was effortless.”
For a veteran, Ferrell was a little out of his element on this particular film. He was the only non-Spanish speaker on the film. Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna were cast as the Onza and Raul respectively and brought authenticity and rich Spanish acting resumes with them. Genesis Rodriguez who made her feature film debut as Sonia also has considerable Spanish acting experience.
“It was easy working with them,” Ferrell said. “Diego and Gael have great senses of humor and I was able to find the same bond with them as I have with John [C. Reilly] and Mark [Wahlberg].”
For the entire filming process Ferrell was just trying to catch up. “I knew the script in English, I knew what I was saying, and I knew the telenovela format, but I was constantly studying Spanish. Improv was at a minimum, because I had to make sure of my pronunciation.”
Finally seeing his idea come to life, Ferrell is excited about the reaction from audiences. “I think it will be a pleasant surprise because you don’t know where it is going. I’m very proud of it in its absurdist quality.” Adding, “I would love for it to be a cult hit.”
Ferrell will next be seen in The Campaign alongside Zach Galifianakis later this year. As for his next foreign film, “I think I have to do a Chinese movie next.” Can’t wait.
This review was originally published at Bentley Vanguard
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