When Stephanie Fleming (Zoey Deutch) decides to invite her family out to California for the holidays to meet her boyfriend, she doesn’t realize the chaos that’s going to erupt upon their arrival. Her loving but overprotective father, Ned (Bryan Cranston), along with her mother (Megan Mullally) and brother Scotty (Griffin Gluck), is about to meet her boyfriend, who none of them knew existed until this invitation came through. When they arrive, they learn that not only is this boyfriend a tech billionaire with a glorious house, but he’s foul-mouthed, incredibly awkward and a seemingly terrible influence on their Stanford attending daughter. When Laird (James Franco) reveals to Ned that he’d like to ask his daughter to marry him, it sets Ned off on a panic-induced craze that sets in motion wild shenanigans involving everyone in the household.
After watching the first trailer, Why Him? seemed like it was destined to be terrible. It looked like the kind of movie that showed all the good parts in the trailers and all we were left with were other random jokes that didn’t land well and some BS exposition and drama. While it certainly included a little of those elements, Why Him? was a surprisingly hilarious film that caught me off guard in the best way possible.
If you ask me, James Franco’s best roles tend to be ones involving dumb stoner-like characters, but if you can take that good natured stoner and give him a lot of money, the results are equally as entertaining. Laird is the kind social-challenged billionaire who makes things very difficult for himself when it comes to interacting with old fashioned people, thus making an excellent recipe for comedic happenings. That being said, what made the film for me was the ridiculous dynamic between Laird and his paid friend/advisor/home guru Gustav, played wonderfully by Keegan-Michael Key. I don’t want to reveal anything about the random surprises, but I will say that the joys of evasive parkour have to be seen to be believed.
It’s been way too long since we’ve seen Bryan Cranston on screen in a straight-up feature comedy and it is a wonderful sight to see (I’m excluding Get a Job since that was made four years ago). He may be the one playing a hard-ass but it works for the film and is a great compliment to James Franco’s eccentric persona and for creating additional gags outside of the father/potential son-in-law storyline. His character has to deal with keeping his family together and maintain a business that’s on the verge of failing. It’s this twist on the typical protective father character that helps prevent the film from being as cookie-cutter as it probably could have been.
Why Him? is very reminiscent to Meet the Parents and other similar movies like Father of the Bride, but I suppose that makes sense since this movie is directed and co-written by John Hamburg, the man who wrote the Meet the Parents films. The main difference is that he gets to be raunchy this time around rather than having to pander to the entire family which, for the most part, worked for me. The movie isn’t exactly original (why do so many movies love referencing the band Kiss?) and sure, it may be predictable, but I laughed consistently throughout the movie and needed something mindless to watch during a time where all of the Oscar caliber dramas are being released and holiday stress is starting to hit its zenith.
Overall, Why Him? isn’t for everyone, but if you like raunchy comedies with some good laughs, this one is worth a watch.