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by Laura Leon on March 22, 2012

Casa di Mi Padre
Directed by Matt Piedmont

Casa De Mi Padre is a weird little film—little not just in terms of its short running time (84 minutes), but also its ambition. Director Matt Piedmont, writer Andrew Steele and star Will Ferrell set out to lovingly spoof spaghetti westerns and telenovellas with a story about filial loyalty, forbidden love and family pride set in Mexico and told entirely in Spanish. Ferrell’s Armando fights to keep the family ranch solvent and safe from Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal), the dreaded druglord. Watching the movie, even in its more humorous moments, it’s hard not to think about the fact that Mexico is actually suffering through a major drug war, which has resulted in  thousands of victims; it’s something that doesn’t seem to factor into the filmmakers’ consciousness. Things escalate when Armando’s supposedly successful businessman brother Raul (Diego Luna)—and favorite son to father (the late Pedro Amendariz Jr.)—returns home with his hot fiancée Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez) and tangles with Onza.

The movie has a good time channeling Sergio Leone, not to mention Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse, and it actively welcomes our laughter over the sight gags of obviously fake horses and painted backdrops. There’s a sly nod to Y Tu Mama Tambien, which starred both Luna and Bernal, involving the latter smoking two cigarettes, but aside from that much of the plot feels like a stale retread. We know that Armando will prove to be the better man to Raul, and that he and Sonia will fall to their mutual temptation, although perhaps the butt-slapping sex scene will come as a surprise. Ferrell plays his role with a straight face, the joke being that this obvious white dude is speaking rudimentary Spanish, and his costars seem to at least enjoy the flamboyantly ’70s style costumes and allusions to Scarface. That the filmmakers are sincere in their attempt to carry their concept to its fullest extent is somewhat admirable, but as is often the case in, say, Adam Sandler movies, the story is more suited to an SNL skit than an almost-full-length feature film.