Why Him review: Confused and confused

Chad White

Loves: Megan Mullally, Keegan-Michael Key, Cedric the Entertainer, Christmas movies
Likes: Bryan Cranston, James Franco
Dislikes: James Franco playing James Franco
Hates: Poop jokes

Total fucking dad move.

Raunchy family themed comedies seem to be a genre in themselves. Couple that with the cheery Christmas atmosphere and you’ve got a hit. Last year, Daddy’s Home and The Night Before had their own takes on the genre. The latter was subjectively better but both did well with the former taking in more than three times its budget. But what one movie had, the other didn’t. Daddy’s Home had one Christmas scene while The Night Before was missing the true familial aspect of the holiday. With the release of the Bryan Cranston and James Franco led Why Him comes a true aspect of family with the deep cynical attitude of the holiday. However, it just didn’t mix well enough.

Cranston plays Ned Fleming, father to Zoey Deutch’s Stephanie and father to Megan Mullally’s Barb. He’s the owner of an ailing, out of style paper factory that’s losing business at every turn. On top of that, he learns that his daughter has been dating an internet mogul (Franco’s Laird Mayhew) for months and she’s thinking about dropping out of college to do non-profit work. Of course he’s unhappy about the decisions, leading him to make a fool of himself for the entirety of the movie.

This largely forgettable film features a story from Jonah Hill, John Hamburg and Ian Helfer with the actual script coming from the last two. It’s essentially Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner but with a rich white guy instead of a black guy. The jokes never, ever elevate above Cranston hating Franco. Neither do they mature past the idea of old versus new. Franco continues to drive forward with every one of Cranston’s mistakes. Cranston, for no reason beyond the childish nature of Franco, continues to hate his girlfriend’s boyfriend. The act gets stale and, by the end, it ran its course ten times over.

Directions is nice, though. Hamburg is able to keep people in frame with the action. It’s nothing too over the top. There’s a party scene later in the movie that is done really well. Characters are given enough motivation to say their lines and someone like Keegan-Michael Key doesn’t need too much pointing. Then there’s Megan Mullally whose talents are reduced to common housewife. She was wasted in a role that could’ve stolen the movie.

Should you watch Why Him?

For a movie that plays out as GWCTD: Rich Edition it sure does nothing with the material. The audience is treated to four days of Christmas antics with an overacting Cranston and pretty much on par Franco. This effort feels sophomoric in its execution. At least some of its players could work with its faults. Skip this until a drunken Christmas of the future.