You think having sunny-spirited Californian Will Ferrell play the son of a Mexican rancher is not goofy enough? How about if the entire movie is in Spanish (with subtitles)? You want goofier? I got your goofy right here. The entire premise of the movie is that it is a humorous take on a genre that is largely unknown to its intended audience. The result plays like an extended “Funny or Die” short, engagingly loopy and unpretentious but overlong and uneven.
Ferrell’s great appeal as a comic performer is the way he commits so completely to whatever his character’s dim but utterly earnest world view is supposed to be. Whether he is an elf or “Hank the Tank” or a high school cheerleader or banging on a cowbell, he is completely on board. Here he joins with Mexican stars Gabriel Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna (who co-starred in “Y Tu Mama Tambien” and “Rudo Y Cursi”), and Latino actors Genesis Rodriguez (“Man on a Ledge”) and Efren Ramirez (“Napoleon Dynamite”) in the story of a rancher with two sons, Armando (Ferrell) and Raul (Luna) and the drug kingpin (Bernal) who wants their ranch and the woman both brothers love.
Armando is a rancher at heart, but his father does not respect him, reserving his love for the son who left home and became successful in business, Raul. When Raul returns with his beautiful fiancee, Sonia (Rodriguez), they hope the ranch’s financial problems will be over. But it turns out Raul’s money comes from drugs, and the rival drug lord Onza (Bernal), who has his own relationship with Sonia, wants to eliminate the competition and punish those who dared to challenge him.
The film embraces the cheesiness of its melodramatic plot, clunky (at least in translation) dialog, and limited budget, and the best jokes are the cheery and sometimes absurd asides that go on at the edges of the frame. Thankfully, its humor is based in a genuine affection for its source material, the soapy, low-budget telenovelas (and the traditional Hollywood Westerns that influenced them), respecting the heart of those stories and their audiences. The cast is terrific, especially Bernal, who can make smoking two cigars at once look menacing and the beautiful Rodriguez, and everyone in the cast is clearly having a blast. There are some moments of loony hilarity, but it would have worked better as a short, as the concept gets played out quickly. Si casa no es tu casa.
Parents should know that this film has some strong language, drinking, smoking and drug use and drug dealing, comic but graphic bloody violence with characters injured and killed, sexual references and situations with nudity
Family discussion: What was the significance of the white tiger? What audience did the filmmakers have in mind?
If you like this, try: “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavera” and some real telenovelas