Plans may be afoot to bring back Will Ferrell's greatest comic creation Ron Burgundy with Anchorman 2, but the actor proves he's still got sturdy comedy chops in his latest offering Casa de mi Padre.
It's a curious comedy from the Anchorman and Funny or Die team, casting Ferrell as Armando Alvarez, a Mexican rancher whose escapades include getting involved in a drugs war, a romance with his brother Raul's (Diego Luna) fiancée Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez) and encountering a giant white talking cat in the wilderness. All of this in Spanish with English subtitles as director Matt Piedmont and writer Andrew Steele spoof the telenovelas that are popular in Latin America.
Parodying soap opera histrionics, Casa raises laughs with its stilted acting, shoddy production values and dubious editing techniques. It's done badly on purpose, and as fans of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace will know, this is a premise that can sometimes bring about hilarious results. Ferrell and co obviously have huge affection for the telenovela, and by highlighting the format's shortcomings they've been able to mine it for comedy gold.
On the way, he wins the heart of bombshell Sonia, and in one of the movie's most memorable sequences they share a sex scene that's cheeky in every sense of the world - Ferrell was last seen like this streaking through the quad in Old School. The movie's eccentricities don't end there, as Casa features a wild hallucinogenic trip, a wedding congregation getting gunned down and an entire sequence that's gone missing and been replaced by a grovelling text crawl apology.
As a Saturday Night Live alumnus Ferrell is well honed at sketch comedy, and there's a sense with Casa that even at a brisk 84 minutes it's making a single joke go very far. That said, when the gags don't hit the target there's no questioning the cast's commitment. Ferrell makes for an endearing underdog, while Luna and Bernal have fun chewing scenery. The trio play a bar room exchange brilliantly, from Bernal's dual-cigared villainy to the hilariously shoe-horned in dig against the US.
It lacks the broad appeal of its star's movie back catalogue, and is not a comedy classic by any stretch, but there's enough amusement packed in to make it worthwhile for dedicated fans. You have to admire the team behind Casa de mi Padre for taking a risk on something so completely daft and loopy.