I get that some of you will probably think I’m pretty humourless when I review movies. After all, I’ve criticised a lot of comedy movies since I starting reviewing films on a regular basis and there’s not many that have got many nice words from me. That is because quite simply, we are in a huge slump in terms of comedy movies, with TV sucking away some of the best writing talent to make wonderful shows such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place. But I always have hope for any comedy released and so it’s time to see if Why Him is the film that is a turning point in the genre.
Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad) is shocked to discover that his daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch, Dirty Grandpa) has got a boyfriend without telling him. To get to know him better, him and the family head out to California to meet him, only to discover he is the mllionaire games developer Laird Mayhew (James Franco, 127 Hours).
So you know how I said the question whether this was a turning point in the comedy genre? Well it isn’t, review done. Oh you want more? Really? You’re going to make me talk about this more? Ugh. Well just to warn you, this review is basically going me trying to describe in many different ways why this film isn’t funny. That’s a tough thing to do, mainly because there are only so many ways you can say a film isn’t funny without it becoming incredibly boring. So let’s make a start of it. This film is at the level of a 9-year-old, it’s just discovered swear words and it thinks they are most hilarious thing in the world. It’s why Laird has a swear word in each sentence and why the film stops dead in tracks for a character to simply list swear words, because that’s hilarious you know? Swear words can be funny, but only if used in the right way, not just by spouting them out.
So onto the plot which is pretty tired by this point. The director John Hamburg (I Love You, Man) wrote all the Meet The Parents movies, which are pretty much the same of this. Fiancee and potential father-in-law clash and comedy is meant to ensue. But that franchise was dead in the water by the time we got to Little Fockers and simply changing the main character from the fiancee to the father-in-law is going to make it interesting again. And so this dynamic is incredibly boring by the time we realise that’s the film we’re going to get which means the jokes have to be on fire to make up for it. But as you can tell, they aren’t.
What makes a lot of these comedies frustrating is that they do end up assembling a wonderful cast, only to waste them. And that is certainly the case here. It’s easy to forget because of the amazing work he’s done in Breaking Bad, but Bryan Cranston is a truly brilliant comedic actor as shown by his time in Malcolm in the Middle. Yet he is stuck here in a bland straight man role with barely even any attempts of doing a funny line or even reaction. You’ve also got Keegan-Michael Key (MADtv) as Laird’s manservant Gustav whose humour basically comes from a funny accent. So no humour at all.
And one of the most baffling things about the movie is the theme of it. Let’s be straight about the main two characters of the movie. Ned is a rather dull straight man who seems like a decent person but isn’t that interesting. Laird is an obnoxious frat bro who you want to punch in the face. Yet this movie wants to act like these two people are the same, that because they both run businesses and are honest they should actually love each other rather than hate. No, Ned is perfectly right to hate Laird because he’s an obnoxious person who doesn’t seem to get what boundaries are, and they are not the same. The film utterly fails at this theme because they say it rather than actually show it in the movie, and it’s rather insulting to the viewer to suggest this is even a thing.
So here is where I try to find something positive to say about the movie and to be quite frank, it’s incredibly difficult with this film. The film is reasonably well shot so everything is clear, which is something I suppose, and some people might get something out of it. As in the aforementioned 9-year-olds that still think swearing in itself is inherently funny. But other than that, I’m really struggling. It’s not directly offensive and completely insulting to the audience at the very least like Dirty Grandpa and Fist Fight are, but it’s getting close to that level. So yeah, still not good.
Upon review, Why Him is just another example at how bad Hollywood has got at making comedy movies. It should be pretty simple to get some funny characters doing some funny things, especially with all the talent that is available nowadays. Yet those at the top seem to think what we want from our comedy films is a lot of swearing and incredibly lowbrow humour, which we got past in the 90s. We do like a bit of silliness, but that isn’t seeing a dead moose’s testicles go into someone’s mouth. This is sad, poor and just another example of comedy with no laughs.
Agree with Adam’s review? Let us know in the comments what you thought of this flick!