Why Him? (2016): Surprisingly Not Terrible
This weekend gives us some counter programming to all the major blockbuster movies that are currently out in theaters: the comedy Why Him?. I went to the theater hoping to get at least a few laughs. I’ll be sure to keep those laughs a secret by keeping this review spoiler free. Be sure to comment on my review at the bottom of the page with some of your thoughts!
Why Him? is directed by John Hamburg and stars Bryan Cranston, James Franco, and Zoey Deutch. The movie follows Ned Fleming (Cranston) as he learns that his daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) is dating an eccentric millionaire named Laird (Franco) who has no filter to say the least. Upon getting to Laird’s home in California for Christmas, Laird tells Ned that he wants to marry Stephanie on Christmas Day. Ned initially declines as you can imagine, but Laird insists that he will get Ned to like him by Christmas.
While the premise sounds a little tired, I was moderately excited to see the movie because of the possible dynamic between Bryan Cranston and James Franco. Everyone seems to forget that before Cranston became the beloved Heisenberg in Breaking Bad that he made his name in comedy in such TV shows as Malcolm in the Middle and Seinfeld. His ability to play it straight while James Franco goes nuts has the potential to be very funny.
Why Him? could also do great business at the box office. Office Christmas Party, the only other major comedy out in theaters (you can read my review of that movie here), is starting to be played in less theaters (and should really drop off once Why Him? goes wide this weekend). All the big movies out currently such as Rogue One, Assassin’s Creed, and Passengers all cater to the same viewing audience which means Why Him? could possibly speak to moviegoers looking forward a change-up in the holiday movie lineup.
What I Liked
After leaving the theater, I can say that Why Him? is very uneven, but definitely has more than a few laughs.
James Franco is at it again with his typical shtick. He basically acts as himself in Why Him?, but I found it to be very funny. Whether or not you like James Franco and his brand of comedy is at the core of the decision of whether you like this movie or not. He does his usually type of hard-R comedy that you see in many of his team-ups with Seth Rogen. However, with a quality actor to work off of in Bryan Cranston, Franco makes you laugh more times than not.
One major standout of the film is Keegan-Michael Key as Laird’s assistant. Keegan-Michael Key brings a much appreciated energy to the film that breaks up the back and forth between Franco and Cranston. Franco and he have a bit that runs throughout the film that is pretty hilarious and had people in the theater laughing hysterically. Key has definitely found success post Key and Peele and continues it with Why Him?.
What I Didn’t Like
However, for all the bits that make you laugh, there are a lot of attempts for laughs that fall very flat. Zoey Deutch’s brother in the film, Griffin Gluck, comes off as very annoying the entire film. They try to have him bond with Franco’s character to slowly say more and more ridiculous things, but it’s just irritating. On top of that, there are periods of this movie that you will find yourself not laughing at all.
As the plot begins to unfold, the only conflict of the film abruptly gets resolved for seemingly limited reasons. While I don’t expect a masterfully written script in an R-rated comedy with James Franco, I would have liked to have seen a better realization by the characters that could also bring some holiday cheer into the mix as well. As you might imagine, the movie is pretty predictable as well. You can easily guess the main beats of Why Him? from reading the synopsis above. While it isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a comedy, the predictability of a movie becomes more glaring and frustrating when the jokes aren’t coming fast and often.
However, despite its problems, a comedy should be measured based on how often it creates laughs, which Why Him? does a majority of the time. I’ll give Why Him? a C+. The cast does enough to make this movie moderately enjoyable. Just a warning: if you do not like gross out and crude humor than Why Him? may not be for you. The movie easily earns its R rating.
Thanks for reading! Be sure to leave your thoughts at the bottom of the page.
What should I review next? Whether it be old or new, the choice is up to you!