Review: Why Him?

A fairly stock standard studio comedy, Why Him? is lifted by several skits that sees Megan Mullally shine and confirms Keegan-Michael Key as one of the funniest actors working in cinema today. Sure, it’s far too long and peters out well before it finishes, but there’s a lot of chuckles to be had here.

Ostensibly, it’s just another Christmas themed film (which will lock to the true box office prospects to the holiday period) but with the starpower of James ‘I can’t do a movie without referencing my genitals’ Franco and Bryan Cranston behind it, prospects should be pretty good. Co-writer/director John Hamburg takes the doting father disapproves of daughter’s freewheeling new boyfriend and amps it up by infusing it with wildly raucous language and a comment on the transition of the economy (which is not nearly explored to any great level but it is a nice touch they put in).

Ned & Barb Fleming (Cranston & Mullally) are the proud parents of college student Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) and teenager Scotty (Griffin Gluck). Ned’s celebrating his 55th birthday when his daughter invites him and the family to Palo Alto, California to meet her new boyfriend Laird (Franco). Unbeknownst to the Flemings, Laird is a multi-millionaire who lives in a modern mansion compound where his very liberal lifestyle is sure to challenge them all. Disapproving and aghast from the first instance, Ned’s struggles with Laird only compound when a blessing for marriage is requested early in the piece.

Look, we all know where this is going and, like all good comedies, it’s the peripheral players that really make Why Him? work. Megan Mullally’s Barb is a showcase of her comic timing, a lot of the material is very low brow but she delivers it in fine form. The same can be said about Keegan-Michael Key’s French butler role, he is hysterical in this and commands the laughs in every scene he features (be sure to check out Keanu on home entertainment, too). Cranston is solid as the rigid Ned with more than one or two nods to his Malcolm in the Middle dad role. Franco does Franco with that killer grin and spends about half the movie without a shirt on.

Loose with its tongue, the movie is more hooked into ridiculous set pieces than  mining comedy from the premise. The japanese toilet sequence is potty-comedy gold, the random attacks in and around the property provide slapstick humour and, depending on your tolerance, the free flowing language keeps the f*&ks a’comin’.

The film loses its momentum in the final act where it goes for the moralistic Hollywood ending (complete with surprise cameo) and it wraps itself up in a big family values bow. Given it runs 118 minutes, it is 20 minutes too long and most of that fat exists in the last act.

Is it disposable? Yes? Will you forget about it a day or two later? Most likely. But Why Him? is a lot funnier than it had any right to be and should have audiences flocking in the only adult comedy in the market place for Christmas.

★★★1/2

WHY HIM? releases on DECEMBER 26, 2016 in AUSTRALIA through 20TH CENTURY FOX