Armando Alvarez (Will Ferrell) is a simple cattle rancher who finds himself caught in a turf war between brother Raul (Diego Luna) and drug kingpin La Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal) but, as things unfold, he finds his loyalties start to lie more with Raul’s fiancée Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez).
The general concept of Casa is one which may strike as being one-note to some, and indeed the trailer for the film could have essentially worked as a short all in itself, but the fact that it got made at all is an impressive achievement given just how limited an audience there really is for it, a Spanish language melodrama knowingly made on a low budget which often takes pains to show it.
Casa de mi Padre finds Will Ferrell in his element: being thoroughly silly. Though he’s tried to do more dramatic work in the past, most notably working with Woody Allen in Melinda & Melinda, he’s best known, and loved, for his rather more eccentric characters, however, in this he mixes that up with someone whose somewhat more sympathetic and more immediately likable than the likes of Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights or Dale in Step Brothers.
Armando Alvarez is a loser who can’t seem to get a woman, is constantly having his intelligence insulted ,and has a very hard time rolling a cigarette. But despite all this, he is liked and its easy to see why, Ferrell’s doing the innocent idiot thing but with a warmth, saving himself from getting into the “shouty man” lapses his worst moments let him sink to. Through the film though he becomes more of a “man” and by the end has evolved, not a staggering arc but the fact there’s an arc at all given what this film is on the surface is frankly a miracle.
He’s also helped by really very decent supporting cast as Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna star together as adversaries and both being fully in on the joke, playing up the seriousness of the story within its world but always looking like they’re having a laugh, and Genesis Rodriquez, who has a surprising amount of chemistry with Ferrell, feeds into his comedy perfectly well.
The sense of the surreal is never far away either and this is an aspect of Ferrell’s work I like most so I’m glad it’s here. A “vision” sequence involving a terribly fake tiger makes barely any sense whatsoever but does involve Ferrell dressing up as an Andy Warhol a-like and the various fake horses and sets all lend into a sense that the film likely didn’t have a big budget at all and may as well take the piss out of itself for this. Casa de mi Padre isn’t vintage Ferrell but if you like his work generally, I see little reason why you’d fail to enjoy a funny and consistently entertaining 90 minutes or so.
The film arrives on UK Blu (and DVD) through StudioCanal with a decent 2.35:1 transfer working well in the many daytime sequences with a digitally shot clarity which is transferred well though the occasional darker sequence suffers from being a bit smudgy, a consistent problem with digital cinematography but one that hurts the image nonetheless. Audio comes from a DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack which only really works the surrounds during the action sequences though dialogue and stereo effects in the front channels are very well handled.
Extras on the disc aren’t too extensive but there’s some decent stuff here. We have a 15 minute making of which gets through a fair bit of material as the main cast members talk about the ridiculousness of the idea of the film in the first place and director Matt Piedmont’s directorial style which seemed to help Luna and Bernal in particular. Moving on, there is a 3 minute interview with Pedro Armendariz Jr who plays the father of the family in the film, which serves more as a little tribute to the actor who died at the tail end of 2011 but doesn’t give us too much insight. We also have 20 minutes of deleted scenes which do contain some funny material with one of Armando’s friends showing himself to be something more than he appears as a particular highlight though there is also a lot of stuff here which maybe gets too much into the characters, which isn’t really needed from what is a fairly simple story in the first place. We finish with a music video, fake TV ads and a trailer. It’s certainly better than nothing overall.
Casa de mi Padre is out October 1st on Blu-Ray and DVD through StudioCanal.