Why Him? Film Review
Cast: Bryan Cranston, James Franco, Zoey Deutch, Megan Mullally, Keegan-Michael Key
Director: John Hamburg
It's the eternal dilemma.
Your beloved brings home a better half that is less than desirable in your eyes.
This is the crux of the latest comedy from director John Hamburg (Along Came Polly, I Love You Man) with Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston as Ned the dad threatened by his daughter Stephanie's choice of beau.
Stephanie's fallen for Silicon Valley CEO Laird Mayhew (a fully committed James Franco), a tats and all stoner slacker whose infatuation with Zoey Deutch's Stephanie is evident from the start. When Stephanie diverts the family on their Christmas vacation to spend the break getting to know her new other half.
But this is the last thing on Ned's mind with his paper company facing extinction and now his beloved daughter shacked up with the wrong man, the scene is set for conflict as Laird tries to win Ned over...
Why Him? sets its stock out in its first scene - there's a hint of raunch, a liberal dose of foul language and a feeling that low hanging fruit is the easiest option to go for.
From the uptight Cranston to the free and easy Franco, each commit fully to their roles but are never asked to deliver much by the lazy script.
The sense of opposition isn't trowelled on and any conflict is tantamount to nothing more than a few forced in scenes and moments which fail to garner much drama or humour.
Fortunately, Keegan-Michael Key's estate manager Gustav delivers the lion's share of some gags with some strait laced deadpan performance moments giving the film the energy it needs and the laughs it so desperately craves.Along with one scene where Ned tries to fend off his stoned wife (Mullally), there are a few scenes that genuinely offer some laughs and unexpected pleasures.
And there are no scenes which offer any depth to the main characters - particularly Zoey Deutch's Stephanie whose apparent rift with her father is given no rhyme or reason, and therefore no dramatic weight.
But they're too few and far in between in this patchy comedy that underuses all of its team players. There's a nice side element of the old versus the new conflict as is demonstrated by Ned's being in paper, Laird's being in the internet and Ned rolling out a Pink Panther reference that's lost on the younger end, but there's not enough to give any meat to the relatively thin bones.
The young and old conflict may be there and is woefully under-exploited - Why Him? ends up being a lazy, unfunny comedy that misses the mark so often and drags that the only nagging thought you're left with as you leave the cinema, is a resounding "Why me?"