Casa de mi Padre is a mess. I think I love it. The further away I get from the first viewing, the more sure I am. Oh, I will be buying it.
Casa Padre (as I’ve taken to calling it) is Will Ferrell’s satire of a western, a telenovela, and a cigarette commercial. Kris Kristofferson tells you immediately that it is in Spanish. You see right away that it is ridiculous and it will only get better with time.
I don’t want to ruin the sight gags, the stinger after the credits or the fine overacting that occurs…so, let me say…there’s some singing, puppet usage, and a mannequin that bring the tone of the film just where they want it. This is an unabashedly silly, stupid, crass, racist, sexist place that shines a light on all of those things and shows how crazy looks from the outside. And that’s where the Mel Brooks comparison comes in, for me.
The first few times I saw Blazing Saddles I knew I was supposed to love it. I didn’t. I know I’m not supposed to admit it, but it drove me crazy the way Mel Brooks broke the fourth wall (directly addressing the audience, purposefully taking you out of the movie into the world of movie-making, incongruities from the time period…i.e. a toll booth in the desert, “we’re gonna have to send someone to town for a shitload of dimes”).
The reviews of Padre have been so mixed that it made me take a look back for initial reviews of Blazing Saddles. Also mixed. Call me a heretic, but they remind me of each other and I have the pen. People thought Blazing Saddles was mediocre initially as well. They were wrong. I was wrong.
I don’t think I really appreciated Blazing Saddles until I saw it one night when they tried to play it on network TV. There’s too much swearing and blatant racism being addressed to be able to play it anywhere near uncut or even cut to make sense. That and Idiocracy should just have a message screen for the runtime of the film, saying, “Seriously, just rent it. The version we would show you would be terrible.” But that night, watching a weird Memento-ized version, I saw it with a fresh perspective, and I finally got it.
The trailer doesn’t do Padre any favors. It’s cut as if the movie were just the one joke (American comedian who doesn’t speak Spanish speaks Spanish in a mock telenovela). When you watch the trailer, you think you’ve seen the movie. You haven’t.
In addition to the palpably stupid jokes with fake cattle and having scenes in front of that stationary scenery business (OH… there’s a term for it) there are some great lines (the ongoing roll-your-own-cigarette gag pays off in a very smart, funny, and heartfelt way).
The mess is how it feels when you watch it. But that’s me. I usually don’t like movies that have no point but to celebrate the good-hearted moron for the sight gags (most of Adam Sandler’s work) or the poignancy (yes, Forrest Gump, I speak to you). Because, in this case, it’s purpose is to make fun of it. I guess I know too many morons I’m supposed to be polite to because they are good-hearted or poignant.
I can’t think who else might have played Will Ferrell’s role, because that’s the only thing that feels slightly off. He’s just a tad too old, for the roll and for the girl. This might be the reason for the silliness of the love scene.
Because of the trailer, I feared that Padre might be that ONE joke for 84 minutes like a horrible SNL sketch. At best I thought it would be a slightly funnier version of A Day Without A Mexican (which just does have the one joke and is a vehicle for some brutal, but fascinating, stats) because Padrethrows everything at the wall and the culminating effect is that most of it sticks.