Plot: Ned (Bryan Cranston) is a reserved, kind man who is enjoying his birthday party, including a surprise video chat from his beloved daughter, Steph (Zoey Deutch). As she tells all the party goers about how great her father is, her boyfriend Laird (James Franco) enters and begins to disrobe, revealing his bare ass to the entire birthday crew. This is quite a shock to Ned, as he was not only unprepared to see a naked man in his little girl’s room, but he had no idea she had a boyfriend in the first place. In an effort to make amends, she invites the family to come visit and meet Laird, a mobile game mogul and rather quirky fellow. Ned is taken back by Laird’s presence, as well as his strange habits and lifestyle, but he tries to understand the situation. As things begin to spiral out of control, can Ned keep it together for his daughter’s sake, or is Laird just too much for this tightly wound dad to handle?
Entertainment Value: A middle of the road, R rated spin on the old “meet the parents” chestnut, Why Him? is elevated to thanks to a frenetic vibe and a cast loaded with great talent. That vibe is likely due to a lot of improv, which gives the movie an in the moment feel that adds a fun, nervous energy to some scenes. The humor is rapid fire and wastes little time, moving between gags at a breakneck pace and making use of all kinds of tactics, from pratfalls to awkward social interactions to ribald sexual humor, as well as all steps in between. In other words, Why Him? throws a lot of jokes at the wall and hopes they’ll stick and for the most part, it is a fun movie, just not an overly memorable one. The cast is the reason the movie works as well as it does, with Bryan Cranston and James Franco in the lead roles. Franco conveys all the awkward, cringe mannerisms the role requires, while Cranston is game to do whatever he needs to, even if it means doing a scene that revolves around a Japanese toilet. Megan Mullally is also fantastic here, but I wasn’t that taken with Keegan-Michael Key, who hams up his role and comes off more as forced than humorous. This one doesn’t aim high, but it delivers a passable R rated comedy experience, which sometimes, is all you need.
Aside from some brief man ass, no nakedness in this one. The movie has a lot of sexual innuendos and banter, but it is all talk and no action. A little mild, comedic violence is presented, such as Laird being ambushed by his assistant often, but it is just pratfalls and no bloodshed occurs. As I said before, I did like the often manic, seemingly random lines that pop up here. The improv feel does a lot to enhance the awkward tension the movie aims for, as it dials up the nervous, impulsive energies. That being said, the actual lines aren’t that memorable and despite a non stop barrage of jokes, not many land in big, quotable ways. So a consistent flow of solid humor, just not much in terms of big laughs that stick with you. I also think the movie tries too hard at times to seem edgy, which is odd since it never gets that wild to begin with. The craziness needle moves a little for the weird vibe involved, but that’s about it. Otherwise, this is a pretty standard R rated comedy, a little brash, but never that out of control.
Overall Insanity: 1/10