In the same tone as films such as Meet the Parents and just about every other film where Director John Hamburg and Producer Ben Stiller have worked together, Why Him? is both funny, crass and surprisingly family friendly.
This time around, the narrative is focused more on Ned, the father, played by the always fun to watch Bryan Cranston, instead of the approval-seeking boyfriend, Laird, played this time around by James Franco. Ned’s daughter is dating the Internet mega millionaire and Ned isn’t that keen on the young man. Although exactly why you wouldn’t want your daughter to date an absurdly wealthy man, even if he has paintings of animals having sex on the walls, isn’t quite explained… I guess because we wouldn’t have a film if Ned was OK with it.
The movie is full of fun guest actors, from Kelly Cuoco’s disembodied voice to KISS in full gear. Quite frankly, the best laughs in the film come from all the guests and supporting actors in the film. Keegan-Michael Key delivers as the estate manager, Gustav. Cedric the Entertainer is also very entertaining as one of Ned’s employees and his good friend. At times, the film tries to hard to be funny, just as in the Meet the Parents films. Potty humor is unnecessarily inserted and the only reason the film has an R rating. Personally, I’m not one who gets a laugh out of that kind of thing, but the audience I was with did really find most of these moments very funny and laughed though the entire film. The film isn’t all potty humor, though, and I found plenty to laugh at, myself, during the film. Despite the at-times crass humor, the film has some real heart to it and never goes too over the top. I think parents with children over the age of 14 can easily take them to see this one over the holidays, as long as curse words and pictures of animals having sex won’t offend.
The film’s main flaw is that it doesn’t really show us why Laird and Ned’s daughter, Stephanie, played by Zoey Deutch, are in love in the first place. There is no backstory there really, nor do the two characters have much chemistry. If I’m honest here, the story really isn’t about these two, anyway, though. I would have liked seeing the two on camera, together, just a bit more. Why does Franco’s character want to impress his girlfriend’s family so badly? Why her? Franco plays, well, Franco… again. Laird is basically the same guy from Pineapple Express, who Franco has been playing for years… except this time, the character is a tech millionaire and not a pot dealer. Why, besides all of his money, is she so taken with him? The film just doesn’t show the audience why exactly these two would fall in love.
Why Him? isn’t going anywhere new. You have seen this film before, minus all the guest appearances, in just about every father-meets-future-son-in-law film. That doesn’t mean it isn’t funny. Sure, the film absolutely relies on some very cliched tropes and the funniest bits are delivered by the supporting actors, but the end result is a funny family film that teaches us not to judge a book by its tatted-up cover. Why Him? is a solid holiday comedy and I’d give it four out of five stars. A decent movie for the family to go see after all the Christmas ham has been consumed.
Why Him? Is now in theaters, check your local listings.