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April 7, 2012 | 11:09 a.m. CST
A cross between a ’70s grindhouse film and a Telemundo special, Casa de mi Padre is a very odd movie. It mixes deliberately grainy film quality and terrible effects with melodramatic dialogue that demonstrates a vast array of Spanish curse words and a sometimes inferior grasp of the language as a whole.
Of course, the apparent cheapness of the film, which was made on a $6 million budget, is part of what makes it fun to watch. For instance, acting as a spirit guide of sorts is an animatronic albino jaguar with a bellowing laugh like Shao Kahn from Mortal Kombat, which comes courtesy of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Indeed, it might as well have been a Muppet in terms of sheer fakeness, which is why it works along with several other ridiculous visual gags.
Will Ferrell plays a good-hearted Mexican rancher who seeks the approval of his cranky father and has to deal with drug traffickers encroaching on the family’s property. Although Ferrell certainly doesn’t look the part, he chews the scenery as though it were made of rubber and delivers some delightfully hammy lines with absolute solemnity. Génesis Rodríguez is engaging and likable as Sonia, the gorgeous fiancée of Ferrell’s cocky, chain-smoking brother, Raul, who is played by Diego Luna. Raul has some secrets of his own, and a love triangle soon develops, which culminates in a love scene that contains a few close-ups too many of Ferrell’s posterior.
Christina Aguilera provides a catchy theme song in the James Bond-like opening sequence. Even better are the random bursts into song throughout the film. This includes an upbeat campfire ditty sung by Ferrell and his ranch hand buddies, who are played by Efren Ramirez (Napoleon Dynamite) and Adrian Martinez.
The film isn’t for everyone, though. For those who don’t fondly remember Blazing Saddles and spaghetti westerns, the good-natured goofiness of the film might be lost. The thin plot and senseless violence might turn away more critical viewers, but it’s still worth watching at least once, even if it’s at a matinee showing.
Also, stick around through the credits. It’s a rather pointless payoff, but it’s still chuckle-worthy.