In this day and age of films, we have a wide range of Christmas movie genres which ranges from action to romance, thrillers to horror, and everything in between. But not every time we want to feel the adrenaline rush, thrills and fears generated from these movies. Sometimes all we want is to put on a movie to laugh our hearts out without using much of our brain power. And that's exactly what "Why Him?" delivers - a perfect mindless comedy film that doesn't aspire to provide anything more than a hilarious, entertaining time.
Why Him? is a true and true comedy film. It doesn’t aim to make you emotional or convey a message, it just wants to make you laugh using the tried and tested father vs boyfriend trope. But on doing so, it uses a crude, raunchy and vulgar type of humour. So, if you're not put off by such humour and instead enjoy it, then this Christmas comedy movie is for you.
I’ve enjoyed this style of humour a lot from the circle of Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel, and the others. And thanks to them and the early 2000s R-Rated comedies, my love for such films never died. And Why Him? gave me the same laugh-out-loud experience as those movies.
THE PLOT OF WHY HIM? FILM
The film can be best described by the title itself – Why Him? As a father keeps asking his daughter the same question: "Why him? Why did you choose him, of all people?” The story follows a Silicon Valley gaming designer millionaire, Laird (James Franco), who with his girlfriend, Stephanie (Zoey Deutch), invite her parents to California for Christmas. But unbeknownst to them, Laird is secretly planning to pop the question and propose to Stephanie, but her father, Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston), doesn't want to approve Laird as his son-in-law. You see, Laird is no sophisticated millionaire with some rich etiquettes; he's a foul-mouthed eccentric, a Gen Z type of guy whose vocabulary is dominated by curse words and slangs. There’s a good chance that you might have already seen characters like Laird in many films and shows – an honest straightforward guy who has no filters but certainly has a heart of gold.
The film presents a clash of two contrasting worlds - the suburban middle-class world where Ned comes from, where people still rely on old technologies (Ned even owns a struggling traditional printing business), and the new high-class creative world filled with parties, drugs, famous entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, and a DJ set by Steve Aoki himself. So, you can see why Ned would have problems accepting Laird as his future son-in-law. Two different world and two different variations of the same language.
THE COMEDY (HUMOUR) OF WHY HIM?
The comedy in this movie is heavily adult-oriented, with raunchy, vulgar double-meaning dialogues thrown in your face left and right. It works, for the most part, and will successfully make you roll on the floor, laughing. And no, don't even think about putting this movie on Christmas Day and try watching it with your family, unless you're feeling particularly brave and want to push the envelope. It’s not a family Christmas movie. Period.
The humour isn’t something entirely original or new but it still works. In the middle, it does slow down a bit and loses grip, but that doesn’t affect the overall enjoyment. At times, it uses exaggeration for comic effect too – there’s an entire scene where the characters are served edible paper at the dinner table. So, in the midst of some serious conversation, you have the family just devouring a piece of paper, and this absurd imagery looks hilarious on the screen.
The movie’s strength lies in its snappy dialogues and one-liners. However, there are moments where a dialogue starts, and you feel like it's going to be a deep, home-hitting, heart-wrenching, life-changing moment, but then it just suddenly stops and breaks, and the line feels undeveloped. This happens quite frequently throughout the runtime.
THE PERFORMANCES & CHARACTERS IN WHY HIM?
The performances from all the actors are commendable. James Franco has played such a foul-mouthed character before, but in this movie, he uses his charisma and personality to great effect. He steals every scene he's in and looks natural in them. Zoey Deutch didn't have much to work with, as her character was simply a smart girl studying in Stanford University who has a bright future ahead of her, and then falls in love with an honest guy who's completely opposite from her. Nevertheless, she stays true to her character and delivers a good performance.
Bryan Cranston, on the other hand was just incredible, and was the perfect fit for his character of Ned Fleming. People still question him about his involvement in this movie after his breakout performance in the acclaimed TV show, Breaking Bad, the same way they kept bothering Robert De Niro about his role in the movie Dirty Grandpa. But you can tell from any of the scenes that Bryan had a blast of a time making this movie, and that shows in his performance. It's an entirely different role from his previous character of Walter White, and he completely nails it, showcasing his immense range as an actor.
Megan Mullally (as Ned's wife Barb) and Griffin Gluck (as their son Scotty) both get opportunities to display their comedic chops, and they don't disappoint. However, the standout character is undoubtedly Gustav, played by Key & Peele star - Keegan-Michael Key, who is Laird's best friend, butler, assistant, as well as his defence trainer. Key is no stranger to comedy, and he leverages his experience and versatility to make an impression every time he’s on screen - whether it’s through physical comedy or by line delivery.
As I mentioned earlier, Why Him? is intended as a mindless fun ride and it sticks to that formula for its entire runtime. It focuses on comedy so much that the other aspects, especially plot, take a backseat. If well-crafted plotlines and subplots are important to you, then you might want to stay away from this movie. It touches upon certain topics - both men trying to control Stephanie's life, financial struggles with their businesses, Laird's childhood issues, Steph's college life, and many more - but it doesn't delve deeper into any of them enough to develop them in a proper way. Maybe, developing storylines wasn't the writer's priority here, it seems like they just wanted a narrative to serve as a vehicle to deliver the humour.
If you’ve stayed with this article till this section, then I’m sure you must be wondering when will I address the most important question about this movie? You know what, you don’t have to worry now as I’m about to answer a vital question:
IS WHY HIM? A CHRISTMAS MOVIE?
What is a Christmas movie anyway? Is it a movie which talks about and emphasizes the festival of Christmas? If yes, then Why Him? cannot come in that conversation.
But if it is a movie which is based around the time of Christmas, and has the festive feel with decorations, snow and gifts on the screen, then YES Why Him? is indeed a Christmas movie.
The entire movie is set around this time of the year, and we see the characters having Christmas dinner, buying Christmas tree, wearing Christmas clothes, and I think that should be enough Christmassy for you, right?
CONCLUSION OF WHY HIM? MOVIE REVIEW
Overall, Why Him? is a hilarious R-Rated adult comedy Christmas film. It accomplishes what it set out to do – provide mindless entertainment to make its audience laugh. The movie doesn’t take itself seriously, and knows exactly what it is supposed to do and sticks to that formula.
Filled with cameos from the likes of Elon Musk, and Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of rock band, KISS, this movie guarantees a fun time amid all the chaos you face during this festive season. It makes for a nice, easygoing Christmas distraction for people seeking some escape comedy.
The movie lacks a bit with its plot and overall development, but makes up for it with interesting character dynamics and hilarious situations. So, if you are someone who lets out a chuckle whenever they hear an outrageous adult joke, then this movie is for you. Give it a watch and have a great funny evening.
Have yourself a Merry Christmas, and I hope you have a great watching movies. Thank you for reading this article.
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