Lost in translation – Casa de Mi Padre review

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By Richard Haridy
March 25, 2013

If you’ve ever wished Will Ferrell would make a spoof of Mexican soap operas – mixed with a bit of spaghetti western and performed entirely in the Spanish language – then do I have news for you! Casa de Mi Padre is without a doubt the strangest, most niche picture to come out of Hollywood in years, and whilst the fact it merely exists is some cause for celebration, the feature itself is sadly undercooked, muddled, and ultimately not very funny.

Ferrell stars as Armando Alvarez, a simple-minded Mexican rancher who is ridiculed by his stern father. When his brother Raul (Diego Luna) returns to the family ranch with a gorgeous new fiancée (Genesis Rodriguez), Armando gets caught up in a world of illicit drug trafficking and forbidden love. If the plot sounds like a cheesy melodrama, you are well on your way to getting the one-joke Casa de Mi Padre has to offer.

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Saturday Night Live alumni Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont (writer and director, respectively) are clearly working in the same retro-spoof ballpark as Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, yet they struggle to find a consistent tone. Production glitches and continuity errors abound as the movie mocks the low-budget aesthetics of telenovelas, but they jar with some genuinely lovely images. It’s as if Piedmont still wanted to shoot some “cool” scenes.

Much of the comedy also frustratingly falls flat. The screenplay was originally written in English and then translated to Spanish with intentional errors. To Spanish speakers, I’m sure there is more to enjoy here. Monolingual viewers must suffer long stretches of screen time where not much is going on apart from a humorous jarring juxtaposition between flowery language and crude translations. Fundamentally, it seems the big joke of Casa de Mi Padre is that it was produced at all, and as a weird Dadaist joke it is indeed satisfying (Ferrell speaks in interviews of his amusement that it could screen in mainstream US multiplexes). It’s hard, however, to recommend a film that feels like a giant prank.

2.5/5

Casa de Mi Padre is available on DVD and Blu-ray from March 28, 2013.

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