R-rated comedies have a well-deserved reputation for foul language and bizarrely gross situations. We can double down on that idea when dealing with the likes of James Franco and story writer Jonah Hill. If this disclaimer doesn’t warn you off, please continue.
Fans of Franco and Hill will embrace the language, the naughty bits and the weird, but gross bits without skipping a beat. The rest of the viewing world hopefully can look beyond the surface flash and see the deeper story of generational discord, of a loving and protective father and an unfiltered, but genuinely decent prospective son-in-law. Those aspects of the story please us. And some of the writing (by Jonah Hill, director John Hamburg and Ian Helfer) shine ridicule on the pretensions of contemporary art, the lack of cultural history of the millennials and the straight up cluelessness of the elder generation in regards to all things part of the accelerating modern tech world. Some sharply pointed insights here.
Director John Hamburg ramrodded such films as “I Love You Man” and “Along Came Polly,” so comedy films hold no novelty for him. He did get an award nomination for writing “Little Fockers,” a Razzie — the award for terrible films. He and actor James Franco had the relationship of professor/student in Franco’s college years, perhaps not altogether unlike the actor/director relationship.
In the story, Franco, a very rich game company owner, invites the family of his girlfriend (Zoey Dentch, mostly known for her TV roles, but a very solid actress) to California for their first meeting. First meetings have a great opportunity for mishaps, as we know. Bryan Cranston plays the dad and Megan Mullally the mom and both have some good moments. The game guy cannot speak without foul language in any and all circumstances, which of course offends the family flying in from the Midwest.
Also watch for Cedric The Entertainer as well as Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley — both of Kiss.
“Why Him?” runs for one hour and 51 minutes with a hard R rating. Built on a budget of $38 million this one has the possibility of moving the Franco brand beyond his usual hipster/doper fan base. An average three saw blades for “Why Him?” with the insightful writing counter balanced with gratuitous foulness.