“Why Him?” exists solely to milk unsuspecting holiday audiences out of their entertainment dollars — dollars that could (and should) be spent better elsewhere. The film is flat, monotonous, unfunny, and after the first 15 minutes, runs out of steam rapidly. It’s a slam-dunk, tried-and-true formulaic idea for a movie, but there’s nothing new nor exciting in the way of actual humor. When you resort to a gag about dousing people in moose urine at a Christmas party, it’s time to give up.
In the classic rehashing of the “nobody is good enough for daddy’s little girl” scenario, all of the stereotypical characters you expect are checked off the roster here. Slightly ditzy mom (Megan Mullally)? Check. An insignificant significant other (Zoey Deutch)? Check. Wisecracking teenage brother (Griffin Gluck)? Check. A just-for-laughs oddball minority sidekick (Keegan-Michael Key)? Double check (Cedric the Entertainer). Uncomfortable, awkward ‘celebrity’ cameos (Richard Blais, Elon Musk, Gene Simmons) obviously inserted solely for the ‘recognizable giggle’ quotient that they elicited from my audience? Check.
Bryan Cranston steps into the clichéd role of overprotective dad Ned and James Franco is the socially awkward / weirdo boyfriend Laird. In an attempt to update the story and make it current (yawn), Laird is a Silicon Valley billionaire who designs video games and lives in a secluded, offensively lavish mansion in California. The actors are talented and play well off each other as an odd couple, but both men deserve far better material than this pointless piece of junk.
The movie frequently confuses vulgarity with comedy, so buckle up for several extended and dreadfully unfunny bits of gross-out humor. The majority of the attempts at jokes seem paltry and out of place (an extended bit about a broken Japanese toilet is truly scraping the bottom of the barrel), but the real reason why this movie is so awful is that it’s simply NOT FUNNY.
One star is far too generous for this dreck; let’s just consider it my Christmas gift to the filmmakers.
A super-talented cast including Bryan Cranston, Keegan-Michael Key, Megan Mullally and James Franco headline “Why Him?,” an afterthought of a film that has been dumped into theaters for audiences seeking mindless fare. For those with low standards, the movie is sure to please. For the rest of us, however, “Why Him?” fails to clear even the very low bar of our expectations set by the trailer.
“Why Him?” was apparently the brainchild of Franco’s buddy Jonah Hill, but Hill apparently couldn’t be bothered to actually write it, having assigned that task to a couple of no-talent hacks who manage to waste the movie’s cast. Cranston and Mullally are Ned and Barb Fleming, a midwestern couple who are surprised by their daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) when she invites them out to Palo Alto, California to meet her new boyfriend, Internet millionaire Laird Mayhew (Franco). Ned has a hard time adjusting to the idea of his daughter dating the oddball, hipster Mayhew who has a colorful vocabulary mostly consisting of variations of the “F” word and who lives on a vast estate. Supposed hilarity ensues as Mayhew and Ned Fleming butt heads.
While it’s always a pleasure to watch these actors, they are weighed down by a pedestrian script and concept that is well beneath both them and the viewer. The movie is stuffed full of cameos that make little sense and don’t serve to move the story forward. Having someone famous from the culinary, business, or music world appear just to say “hey, look at me!” isn’t interesting or inventive and it encourages audience recognition laughs, a supreme annoyance and a clear violation of the Moviegoer’s Ten Commandments.
“Why Him” has a plot that is completely by-the-numbers, the characters are rote and the resolution predictable. It wouldn’t have taken much to improve this movie, and given the acting talent involved I’m surprised that more effort wasn’t made to do so.