Why him? (2016)
Directed by: John Hamburg | 111 minutes | comedy | Actors: Zoey Deutch, James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Tangie Ambrose, Cedric the Entertainer, Bob Stephenson, Megan Mullally, Zack Pearlman, Griffin Gluck, Jee Young Han, Mary Pat Gleason
It’s every father’s nightmare. The ever-good daughter gets a new man in her life, someone who will turn his baby into a person he may not know again. How does the father in question know? For starters, this young man who has courted his daughter swears in every sentence, is covered in tattoos and is no stranger to the female beauty. Was it mentioned that he is no less than ten years older than the apple of daddy’s eye? Despite everything, as a parent you even give such a crook as a potential son-in-law a chance and a meeting is inevitable. Good luck with it…
In the case of ‘Why Him?’ we follow Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston), a hardworking chairman of a printing company, who plays the role of the poor father. His college daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) hooked up with eccentric games developer Laird Mayhew (James Franco) a few months ago. The latter invites the family to his home for Christmas. So the extremely brave Ned, his wife Barb (Megan Mullally) and his son Scotty (Griffin Gluck) head to Silicon Valley for a summer Christmas. However, Laird has big plans for the entire family.
From the point that ‘Why Him?’ begins, the viewer is actually right about how this film will unfold. The friction between the extremely bourgeois Flemings and Laird’s fierce lifestyle is as formulaic as can be and has no other surprising twists. That is not surprising, the enthusiast will be able to discover some parallels with ‘Meet the Parents’ (2000). Coincidentally, director John Hamburg also worked on the script of that film. Not a new idea, but the implementation makes up for a lot.
After all, Hamburg also brought us the very charming ‘I Love You, Man’ (2009), in which a tired comedy convention was given a new look. Now ‘Why Him?’ not nearly as innovative or funny, but it does have the same charm. Each character gets enough funny moments that for the most part are a bull’s eye. The big wildcard in this set is Franco’s Laird. The humor that is so typical of Franco comes out best when there are enough opponents to give a counter voice. Cranston, Mullally and Deutch do their best to contain it, but Franco’s adolescent humor moves to the forefront just too often.
Fortunately, there is Gustav (Keegan-Michael Key), Laird’s German assistant, who provides the best moments in the film. ‘Why Him? is a film that, as said, offers few surprises, but thanks to the charismatic cast and fun interpretation of a well-chewed story, it still provides a few entertaining hours. A great comedy for every person, but also a quasi horror film for every parent.