Reviewed by: Gabriel Mohler
rivalry between a father and boyfriend
|Featuring:|| James Franco … Laird Mayhew
Zoey Deutch … Stephanie Fleming
Bryan Cranston … Ned Fleming
Megan Mullally … Barb Fleming
Griffin Gluck … Scotty Fleming
Tangie Ambrose … Patty Dunne
Cedric the Entertainer … Lou Dunne
|Director:||John Hamburg—“I Love You, Man” (2009), “Along Came Polly” (2004)|
|Producer:||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Red Hour Films
|Distributor:||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
“Of all the guys his daughter could have chosen…”
I don’t know if all reviewers face this dilemma, or if it’s just me, but sometimes I have to question my motives for reviewing movies. When I saw the trailer for “Why Him?”, I was thrilled at the thought of Bryan Cranston and James Franco playing the father vs. boyfriend duet. But it was obvious the film was going to be rated R for language and, more importantly, sexual content; so I knew I probably shouldn’t watch it. When the thought came to my mind that I could review it, I sternly questioned whether I wanted to review it for the right reasons.
I opted not to review it while it was in theaters. I was hoping that maybe someone else would review it, so I could read the review and know just how much offensive content was in it. But that didn’t happen, so I went ahead and took it upon myself to watch this film and write the review you’re reading now.
In my defense, I didn’t expect the film to be this crude. I did read a few other reviews before watching it, and learned that there was no graphic sex or nudity. So I figured it couldn’t really be that bad, right? Maybe just too much language and an occasional explicit wisecrack? Sigh. I can’t believe I’m still that naive after all the movies I’ve reviewed.
The plot is summed up quite well in the clever title. A girl takes her family to meet her boyfriend, and her boyfriend is an eccentric sleaze. The acting was not disappointing; Cranston and Franco are absolutely PERFECT in their roles, and all the other actors give fantastic performances as well. Another thing that impressed me was the cinematography and scenery. That’s a thing that’s often overlooked in comedies, but it was very well-done in this film and gave me something to enjoy—to make the film more bearable.
It’s true, the film has no graphic sex scenes or explicit nudity. The only nudity is a scene of James Franco’s butt, in an only somewhat sexual situation. There is a scene where sex occurs, but very little is shown. But what the film lacks in pornographic visuals, it makes up for in disgusting dialog. The amount and degree of filthy dialog in this film is simply insane. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say I think there was foul talk in every single scene. When I say it’s constant, I literally mean almost non-stop. And when I say literally… I mean literally! It’s so sexually descriptive I don’t know how the actors could even perform without blushing. And by the way, the aforementioned scene with sex involves the girl and the boyfriend having sex on a table while the father is hiding under it, and the horrified look on his face is played for laughs.
To be fair, I do know there are several truly funny moments in this film that made me laugh. But… I can’t remember what any of them were. The only memorable humor in this film is sexual. The only other humor I remember is a scene where a character tries to figure out how to use a new kind of toilet, which I guess was kind of funny, but that scene went too far, as well.
The language is about what you’d expect—just under 100 f-words (several used with mother), 30 misuses of God’s names, and countless crass words for body parts. On a positive note, the boyfriend’s constant swearing is portrayed as bad. Everyone—the girl, her family, and even his household servants—tell him he should stop swearing so much, and he concedes that he should try to stop. But I don’t remember him ever actually stopping, and it would be nice if the movie had taken its own advice!
There are some forced positive messages at the end. We learn that, despite his nasty lifestyle, the boyfriend is committed to being honest with his girlfriend’s parents, and he will not propose to her without her father’s permission. Both the boyfriend and the father also realize, at the end, that they’ve been selfish, and that it’s ultimately her decision to make. But this ends up being overshadowed by the flip side of that, which is that the girl’s family learns from the boyfriend to be more open to his bad behavior.
There’s probably a lot that I’ve missed. But even half of the content described above should be enough to keep believers from watching it. In my opinion, a good alternative is “Meet the Parents.” Be sure to read our review of that, too, because it certainly has its crude moments, but the crude moments stay in the background while the screwball humor wins hearts. Either way, I strongly urge all viewers to stay as far away from “Why Him?” as is humanly possible.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
…wildly entertaining jaunt… ribald, gross-out humor…
—Bruce DeMara, Toronto Star Newspapers
—Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian (UK)
…clichéd… charmless, largely laughless… [2/5]
—Guy Lodge, Time Out Syndney
…“Why Him?” will make you ask “Why This Movie?”… [C]
—Adam Graham, The Detroit News
…The first scene of “Why Him?” tells you exactly what you’re in for. A young woman named Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) speaks via video chat to her older boyfriend, Laird (James Franco). Their banter goes from flirty to dirty, as Laird riffs on how horny he is and Stephanie coos reassuringly, “I’ll see your almost-black balls later” (yes, you read that right). Then, like an exclamation point, a sudden flash of Laird’s pubic hair—and we’re off on a 111-minute marathon of slangy idioms and expletives, gross-out gags and unbridled raunch, some of it funny, much of it merely strenuous. …
—Jon Frosch, The Hollywood Reporter
…composed almost entirely of Squirm Factor humor. …The “Squirm Factor” happens, say, when a prospective son-in-law is so lacking in his ability to be conversationally appropriate with his future in-laws that he repeatedly makes flattering and boastful remarks about their young daughter’s sexual skills and attractiveness. …And it’s just nine minutes short of two hours. That’s a lot of squirming. …
—Michael Heaton, The Plain Dealer
…he’s a doof with no filter, and his mansion is stocked with preposterous works of art, most of which depict animals fornicating (there’s also an aquarium with a dead moose suspended in its own urine). …
—Owen Gleiberman, Variety
…The film wants to be a comedy of excess, but it just feels excessive… You want toilet jokes? You got them. Dozens!
—Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly
…a steady stream of obscenities and gross-out gags that make the humor in “Bad Santa 2” seem tame by comparison… Bryan Cranston’s too good for these old comedy tropes…
—Alan Zilberman, The Washington Post
…this film is trite, crass and moronic… shoveling expletives into the holes where jokes ought to be… slapping Mr. Franco’s scenery-eating grin on any old drivel doesn’t guarantee entertainment…
—Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times
…not funny, not funny, not funny, not funny, not funny… in the bottom 1% of movies I’ve ever seen…
—Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Time