By Melissa Antoinette Garza
I saw a trailer for WHY HIM? (2016) a few months back and made a mental note to see it. I just recently saw the same ad and thought it was finally coming to theaters only to see it was already available on AMAZON. I rid myself of cable a while ago and I’m better because of it. I have many ROKU/PS3 devices in the house with NETFLIX, AMAZON PRIME, HULU etc., so cable is just redundant for my household. That said, it does seem as though I’m missing out on the premieres of films that I want to see.
I’ll have to keep an eye out on Fandango and IMDB to be certain I don’t wait too long. Films seem to be leaving the theaters much sooner now too. I thought WHY HIM? was bound to be a critical success. It starred the incomparable Bryan Cranston and the very funny James Franco. Those two actors combined with a FATHER OF THE BRIDE (1950) style premise amped up with an R rating comedy approach, made me think it would be a critical smash. I was wrong. On a 38-million-dollar budget, it brought back close to 60 million. It didn’t even double its money, but at least it made it back.
After watching WHY HIM?, I don’t know where it went wrong. It’s hilarious. Maybe, there wasn’t enough advertising. My brother has cable and didn’t see any trailers for it so it could be that. It was released two days before Christmas and just two weeks after ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016), which may have hurt its success as well. Whatever the case, this is a great movie that hopefully will find its footing on digital, DVD and Blu-Ray.
The film begins with Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston) celebrating his 55th birthday among friends and family. Ned’s teenage son Scotty (Griffin Gluck) skypes with his older sister Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) so that she can wish her father a happy birthday as well. Things go wrong when both Ned and his wife/Stephanie’s mother Barb (Megan Mullally) sees her naked boyfriend in the background.
At Stephanie’s request, Barb, Scotty and Ned agree to come visit for Christmas. Stephanie wants them all to meet Laird Mayhew (James Franco), an eccentric millionaire with no filter.
Scotty instantly warms up to him, but Barb and Ned aren’t thrilled about his openness. When Laird shows them that he got a back tattoo of their Christmas cards they grow even more weary. Despite, Laird’s flaws he is a nice guy with a good heart and the best of intentions. His personality and welcoming manner eventually wears down Barb, which only angers Ned more. He sets out to find out dirt on Laird and expose him.
As expected, I really enjoyed the movie. James Franco portrays Laird in a way that makes it impossible not to like him. Cranston’s Ned also appeals to the audience as a nice hardworking guy who wants the best for his daughter. There’s no bad guy in this. Instead, there’s a series of hilarious misunderstandings, miscommunications, and Laird’s oversharing that drives the Fleming family (Ned especially) nuts.
The supporting cast played a pivotal role in keeping the laughs coming and Keegan-Michael Key succeeded at every opportunity. He was amazing, as usual, in the hilarious role of Laird’s house manager, trainer and best friend. The scenes between Key and Franco are some of the funniest within the flick. I first became interested in Key’s work during the skit show KEY AND PEELE starring both him and Jordan Peele. Though, both men were on MAD TV prior to that, I didn’t watch it regularly enough to grasp their comedic genius. I did fall in love with KEY AND PEELE and since then, I keep an eye out and look forward and venture both parties do (whether together or not). Key and Peele’s film KEANU (2015) was extremely underrated and Peele’s recent movie GET OUT (2016) was brilliant and thankfully acknowledged as such. It’s great to see the duo shine so brightly in big screen flicks. I hope they pair up again really soon because they shine brightest together.
WHY HIM? is over-the-top, silly and laugh-out-loud funny. Still, it has heartwarming moments and characters that are both understandable and have depth. If you’re debating whether to rent or buy, I’d say to buy it. It has great re-watch potential and is something that most people will enjoy. It’s not for the easily offended, but it’s nothing too outrageous either.
Scared Stiff Rating: 7/10