Review: Why Him?


If there was any doubt about Bryan Cranston’s acting prowess, “Why Him?” should be enough evidence to convince even the biggest skeptic. To take a script like this – which is moderately funny on its own – and turn it into a laugh-out-loud hilarity-fest is nothing short of marvelous. He won’t win any awards for this one, but they should make one just for him because of it.

He has help, of course. James Franco, the other lead, holds up his end of the bargain in all the ways we’d expect. He’s the master at playing the naive, clueless but infinitely lovable fiancée of Cranston’s twenty-two year old daughter, Stephanie (Zoey Deutch). Along with his wife, Barb (a mostly understated Megan Mullally), and their 15-year-old son, Scottie (Griffin Gluck), they visit their daughter and her new friend, Laird (Franco) in sunny San Jose.

There’s instant dislike from Dad. In some ways, this movie is reminiscent of modern comedy classics like Meet the Parents but there is also a “What About Bob?” vibe, too. Screenwriters John Hamburg and Ian Helfer have put together a solid story. There are some gags, too many probably, but some of them are very funny and end up serving the story.

Don’t get me wrong; there were a few eye-rolling moments. It’s not a perfect movie, nor it is it a high-brow film.  Still, and maybe because I’ve been seeing a disproportionate amount of intense dramas lately, I laughed out loud. A lot.

Sometimes I was cringing, but in the best, most entertaining way possible. Sometimes I was just admiring the way Cranston conveys layers of emotion, sometimes without saying a word. And sometimes I was just grateful that I wasn’t bored.

The entire cast is top-notch; this is a big budget comedy with some great sight gags, cameos, and fun surprises. There is a lot of adult language and gross toilet and sexual humor. Some if it was funny; some of it not. But you have to admire the all-in efforts of Cranston, Franco, Mullally, and the rest of the cast.
I’ll admit it, I got choked up a few times, too. Sue me. Consider it a guilty pleasure if you will, but sometimes we all need a laugh like this.

Director: John Hamburg
Writer(s): Jonah Hill, John Hamburg, & Ian Helfer
Notable Cast: James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Megan Mullally, Cedric the Entertainer

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