Actor Bryan Cranston has, in numerous interviews, repeatedly made mention of the fact that he’s careful about the projects in which he chooses to participate. He’s an actor I generally respect and hold in high esteem and I’ve respected his artistic decisions in the past. And, up until this point, I would say he’s stuck to his guns by mostly appearing in such high pedigree projects as the LBJ biopic All the Way and last year’s biopic, Trumbo, for which he received an Oscar nod. One bet that I’d be pretty confident in making is that the actor won’t find himself being awarded anything other than possibly a Razzie for his part in one of the most painful experiences I’ve had this year, the alleged comedy, Why Him?.
Why Him? is the kind of film that opens with a scene featuring Cranston’s character’s future son in law, played by James Franco in one of the year’s most annoying performances, unzipping his pants and sexting with the Cranston character’s daughter. I refused to believe that this was the high point of the film but then, forty five minutes later and not having cracked a smile, I came to the realization that this was as good as it was going to get as far as this film was concerned.
The plot, such as it is, involves Cranston as Ned, and his wife (Megan Mullally) going to visit their daughter’s boyfriend, Laird (Franco) at his state of the art home a trendier part of California. Laird is the kind of guy who barely earned a high school diploma, let alone a college degree, but somehow managed to make a fortune in the tech business and now just sits around mostly playing video games all day and having sex with Ned’s daughter.
Things take a turn for the worse when Laird asks Ned for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Ned hates him at first but you just know that somewhere along the line he’ll come to love him before it’s all over because that’s how shamefully simplistic the film happens to be.
The script co-written by the film’s director, John Hamburg (Meet the Parents and its sequels, etc.), is so sloppily put together that there’s no consistency in the characters as written. For instance, Laird is supposed to be a champion of environmental causes, as evidenced by his paperless home. By the same token, Laird has no problem with killing a bear and offering said animal as the main course for dinner. Come to think about it, probably the main reason that Laird’s home is paper free is only so it can set the audience up for a painful ten minute gag in which Ned attempts to clean his hind quarters after a trip to the restroom with no toilet paper in sight, but I digress.
Sitting through the experience that was Why Him? is an endeavor I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. My advice would be to see anything-and that includes a blank screen-as opposed to seeing this laugh free endeavor.
Cranston, Mullalley & Franco in Why Him?
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