**** 1/2 out of 5
Rated R for strong language and sexual material throughout
20th Century Fox
Article first published at TheReelPlace.com
It came as a shock to some when director John Hamburg delivered his first comedy masterpiece with I Love You, Man. Filled with instantly likeable characters, and tons of hilarious dialogue that’s still quoted today, ILYM looked like the jumpstart Hamburg needed after stumbling through Safe Men and Along Came Polly. It’s been seven years since ILYM, but Why Him? is Hamburg’s triumphant return to the spotlight. While the promotion has been hit-and-miss, Why Him? is one of this year’s laugh-til-you-cry funniest movies. Admittedly, the film is heavy on dumb, and loaded with profanity, but the sweetness prevails thanks to Hamburg’s expert direction and an exceptional cast.
It’s Christmas in Michigan and Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston) is doing everything he can to keep his printing company afloat. Having just celebrated his 50th birthday, it comes as a shock when he learns his daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) is dating game app entrepreneur Laird Mayhew (James Franco). Soon enough, Stephanie tricks the family into joining her and Laird into spending the holidays together, with Laird springing an even bigger surprise on Ned by asking for his blessing to ask Stephanie to marry him. Ned is put off by Laird’s outrageous lifestyle — while his wife Barb (Megan Mullally) and teen son Scotty (Griffin Gluck) try to give their host the benefit of the doubt. But Laird makes a bet with Ned that Ned be calling Laird “son” before the weekend is over and get his blessing.
For a film with such a simplistic plot, it’s amazing the mileage Hamburg and his cast get out of it. It helps that there’s also a fantastic supporting cast in the likes of Cedric the Entertainer, Keegan-Michael Key, Casey Wilson, Andrew Rannells, Adam Devine, and even Kaley Cuoco helping make the shenanigans as hilarious as possible. However, the true driving force is the pairing of Franco and Cranston. What sounds like one of the most mismatched leads in history turns into a force of comedic nature. The two make a spectacular duo and leave no eyes dry from laughing too hard. As funny as the human cast may be, a chicken steals the whole movie.
Why Him? is absurdist humor through and through and no one will leave without a face or stomach that hurts from laughing. Bear in mind, the film is very much R-rated, but never feels forced or trying to shock audiences. Through it all beats a huge heart. Laird easily could have been turned into a bad guy at any point in the movie, but this is a man who loves his woman and will stop at nothing to prove it to Ned.
Why Him? is one of the year’s most flat out hilarious films and also the year’s best Christmas offering. Judging against Office Christmas Party, the two aren’t even in the same league. This is the Christmas comedy to see this season, just so long as you can handle it. Laird may speak English, but it’s littered with f-bombs. That right there may be enough to make up your mind, but even a co-worker who was uncomfortable with the salty language couldn’t deny that the film is a good time. Why Him? Because he’s the most hilarious character under the mistletoe and should not be missed!