HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Why Him?
HTS Overall Score:79
Does anyone remember when Bryan Cranston was just Hal, the dad on “Malcolm in the Middle”? Before that show came out he was widely considered a nobody in the film and TV world. The man has actually been acting since 1980, but it wasn’t until he played “Hal” that his career took off and once he became Walter White in “Breaking Bad” there was no stopping him. He has a knack for playing very serious and brooding characters, but his most memorable performances to me were in his comedic outings. Now he’s back into the comedy game after a VERY long hiatus and we get to toss in the season of Christmas for no apparent reason. I saw the trailer for “Why Him?” a few months back and rolled my eyes to the heavens and decided to see something else instead. I love Cranston, but James Franco has been striking out lately and unless he’s involved with Seth Rogen and the like I don’t find him all that funny. Along comes this review disc to check out and I am forced to be pummeled by apparent stupidity. The thing is, this kind of stupidity is right up my alley. I make no bones about the fact that it is a fairly standard and crummy comedy, but it’s actually pretty competently made and the chemistry between James Franco and Cranston is side splitting at times. I feel embarrassed to like it is as much as I did, but like it I do.
It’s coming up on Christmas and Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston) is having a bit of a rough time. His printing business, that he built from the ground up, is struggling in an age when Ipads and digital electronics are taking over what used to be his and to make matters worse he finds out that his Stanford attending daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) has a boyfriend. A boyfriend who accidentally introduces himself to the family by walking into Stephanie’s dorm room and strips down not knowing that she’s on a webcam call. The cherry on top comes when Stephanie invites the whole family up for a get together in California so that Mom (Megan Mullaly), Dad and brother Scotty (Griffin Gluck) can meet her new boy toy for Christmas. What seems like a sour proposition for Dad turns into a full-blown nightmare when he finds out that her boyfriend Laird (James Franco) is a foul mouthed, tattoo covered millionaire who is more than a BIT off of his rocker to the straight-talking Ned.
What seemed like a situation that couldn’t POSSIBLY get worse certainly DOES get worse when Laird mentions that he wants to propose to Stephanie, but only if Ned will give him his blessing. When Ned automatically refuses, Laird challenges Ned that if he can win him over by the end of the week, the blessing is guaranteed. A bet that Ned happily takes as there’s no WAY this unhinged loud mouth is going to gain his trust. Unfortunately for Ned the rest of his family soon falls in love with the kooky millionaire. Scotty is of course enthralled with the software developers video game industry, and even mommy dearest is warming up, leaving Ned with the hard choice of digging up SOMETHING that will act as dirt or skeletons that can be drug out of the closet before it’s too late.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94386[/img]I shouldn’t have liked “Why Him?” as much as I did, but I really had a good time for most of the movie. The first two acts setup Laird and Ned’s little private war (with Ned the only one fighting as his wife says at the giant Christmas Party) to perfection and most of the silly jokes actually hit home more often than not. There’s quite a few verbal gags that play off of Laird’s lack of a filter on his mouth, and Keegan Michael Key plays a prominent role in the more physical comedy bits. Still, there’s a lot of stupidity that runs rampant in the film and without more competent actors this whole thing could have been a 100% unmitigated mess. Cranston and Franco are magnificent in their roles (which I knew Cranston would be), which really surprised me as Franco is one of the best parts in the whole movie and he was the one character I was worried about the most. Megan Mullaly is probably the most bland in her delivery during the film (which is sad considering how funny she was in “Will & Grace” back in the day), while Keegan Michael Key gains honorable mention for his hilarious bit with the toilet halfway through the film.
However, there are some flaws that even I couldn’t overlook, and mainly in the third act. The first two acts of the film have us laughing along with the antics of Laird and the frustrated lashings out from Ned, but things start to fall apart right after Ned starts having his I.T. guru hack into Laird’s computer to dig up some dirt. The confrontation that ensues is a bit forced and the rest of the movie the writers try too much to make things all happy and clichéd like most comedy endings. Sadly that decision robs the film of much of the goodwill lent to it for the first few acts and the stilted ending (beside the amusement of seeing KISS come out) left me feeling ambivalent about everything that happens in the last 30 minutes.
Rated R for strong language and sexual material throughout
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94394[/img]Once again I can’t seem to find any real solid information on what “Why Him?” was shot on and what master was used, but form all appearances and inclinations I would say that it is definitely a digital shoot at the very least. The film maintains an impressive neutral tone that that leans towards shades of blue (such as in the Christmas Party that Laird throws), but otherwise is a rather realistic look and feel to it. Fine detail is exceptional, with the viewer able to see close up wrinkles in Bryan Cranston’s brow to the moisture from James Franco’s faces after he comes in from his shower. Long shots look ever so slightly soft to my eyes, but only EVER so slightly less razor sharp than the incredible close ups. Blacks are deep and inky during the shadow filled party, and more than adequate to in the brightly lit world of Laird’s decked out mansion. I notice a flicker of crush here and there, but overall the image is artifact free and very lovely to look at.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94402[/img]For a comedy “Why Him?” is surprisingly quick on its feet and nimble. The dialog still plays the most important part of the mix and there are some natural front heavy sensations as a result, but there are quite a few times the dirty little comedy gets to stretch its legs. The party scene is the most boisterous with loud pulsing electronic music, heavy bass, and a full 360-degree layer of immersion that is really impressive. There’s some ambient background noises such as the sounds of video games, or the thud and whack of Laird and Gustav playing their whole Pink Panther bit, but a lot of the sonic nuances and directional shifts come from the stringed instruments near the end and the electronic remixes of popular Christmas songs layered throughout the movie. LFE is tight and clean, but mainly used to accent a few crashes and bangs along with the aforementioned party scene.
• Why Him? Gag Reel
• 47 Minutes on the Can
• Why Gustav?
• Barb Fleming: America's Mom
• Lou The Entertainer
• Richard Blais: Twisted Chef
• Deleted Scenes
• Audio Commentary by John Hamburg (Director/Co-Writer), Ian Helfer (Co-Writer) and William Kerr (Editor)
• Theatrical Trailer
I can’t tell you that “Why Him?” is some comedy masterpiece. It really isn’t. However, it’s more competent than most in its class and I ended up laughing a LOT during the film. Be warned it DOES have a bit of a mouth to it (one of Laird’s most prominent features is that he doesn’t have a filter on his mouth), but that’s also part of where many of the scenes derive humor out of. The first two acts are simply laugh out loud hysterical, but the third act tries to wrap things up just a little TOO nicely and the film loses some of the goodwill and leeway that came before it. Audio and video are great for the disc, and the extras are enough to give a tip of the hat to the creators. Worth a watch as a guilty pleasure.
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Megan Mullally, James Franco, Zoey Deutsch
Directed by: John Hamburg
Written by: John Hamburg, Jonah Hill,
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, Spanish, French DD 5.1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Runtime: 111 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 28th, 2017
Buy Why Him? On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Why Him? On 4K Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Guilty Pleasure
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