Ferrell plays Armando, an honest, simple rancher whose family spread has become the focal point in a battle between two drug cartels — one of which is headed by his own brother (Diego Luna, costar of the Mexican classic Y Tu Mama También). A bloodbath erupts in scenes so ineptly staged and ludicrously grisly there is not one moment when you can suspend disbelief, even if you want to. The acting comes at a fever pitch, worthy of the most overwrought telenovela Univision has to offer. Every once in a while the action stops for a lively musical number (Ferrell joins in on a rousing "Yo No Se" and Christina Aguilera belts out the brassy, Goldfinger-style title song), and a surreal mystical vision sequence owes a lot to an even earlier icon of Mexican cinema, 1970's El Topo.
The film's cast of actual Spanish-speaking actors is superb, including poker-faced Efren Ramirez (Napoleon Dynamite), telenovela beauty Genesis Rodriguez and Gael Garcia Bernal (Che Guevara in The Motorcycle Diaries). The late Pedro Armendariz Jr., one of Mexico's most beloved telenovela stars, breathes unexpected life into the role of Armando's father.
The international film-savvy folks sitting around me the other night laughed with delight at the endless ways Casa de mi Padre quoted familiar Mexican action movie motifs. Me, I've never seen a Mexican action film in my life. But I know funny when I see it.
You may also like: Join our Movies for Grownups message board. »