Director: John Hamburg
Cast: James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Zoey Deutch, Adam Devine, Keegan-Michael Key, Megan Mullally, Casey Wilson
Runtime: 1 hr 51 mins
Rating: NC16 (Coarse Language And Sexual References)
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/WhyHimMovie/
Opening Day: 29 December 2016
Synopsis: Over the holidays, Ned (Bryan Cranston), an overprotective but loving dad and his family visit his daughter at college, where he meets his biggest nightmare: her well-meaning but socially awkward Silicon Valley billionaire boyfriend, Laird (James Franco). The straight-laced Ned thinks Laird, who has absolutely no filter, is a wildly inappropriate match for his daughter. The one-sided rivalry—and Ned’s panic level—escalate when he finds himself increasingly out of step in the glamorous high-tech hub, and learns that Laird is about to pop the question.
Some of you may remember reading about James Franco posting a near naked Instagram picture back in 2014. Shortly after the public knew about how the actor tried to pick up a 17 year old girl via Instagram, he showed off a shirtless selfie and although his manhood was covered, his – ahem – hair down there was visible. While the image was eventually taken down, the 38 year old’s reputation did take a hit.
If you aren’t already a fan, this movie wouldn’t help improve his image.
The Academy Award nominee (2010’s 127 Hours) plays Laird, a famous and wealthy billionaire in his latest work. He is vulgar, expressive and extremely blunt. Not everyone can warm up as quickly to this man: in the opening scene, he flirts with his girlfriend Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) via Facetime and shows his – ahem – hair down there. If you haven’t seen that photo from Franco’s Instagram account, you get to see it on the big screen here.
No wonder he isn’t getting much love from his girlfriend’s parents Ned and Barb (played graciously by Bryan Cranston and Megan Mullaly). The couple has travelled a great distance to visit their daughter over the holidays, and they are not exactly comfortable with what they are seeing. To make things worse, Laird is planning to propose to Stephanie. Ned, being the protective father, schemes to make things unsuccessful for Laird.
If you thought Franco’s pubes are the only things you may be offended with, here’s a warning – there are countless spews of vulgarities and characters are, well, just not very likeable in this 111 minute movie. Oh, and if you are a fan of Breaking Bad’s Cranston, there is an extended scene of him with his pants down, trying to get the toilet bowl spray working. The chuckles do come, but whether you subscribe to this brand of lewdness is another thing.
To be fair, director John Hamburg (2004’s Along Came Polly, 2009’s I Love You, Man) probably never meant for this movie to be a critical hit. Having written the Zoolander and Meet the Parents movies, he probably just wants his viewers to have a good laugh over no brainer, inconsequential, and possibly cheap jokes. With a story co written by Jonah Hill and Ian Helfer, this movie takes the tried and tested formula of a father versus fiancé plotline and adds lots of crude elements in it.
Franco and Cranstonhave a nice on screen chemistry and it was probably effortless to play their respective characters. Laird lives in a high tech, digital and paperless world, while Ned is the owner of an old fashioned printing company. The irony is fun and there are some clever jokes. Unfortunately, the two actors’ performances are sometimes overshadowed by side gags, including an intrusive artificial intelligence device, a dead moose housed in a tank of its own urine and as mentioned above, a fancy toilet bowl with non intuitive controls and no instruction book.
If you are in the mood for some disposable fun, then go ahead and leave your brains at the door to enjoy this comedy.
(You’ll laugh and have fun with this disposable comedy, and that’s about it)
Review by John Li