Bryan Cranston makes a long awaited return to his comedic homelands as an uptight father who doesn’t approve of his student daughter’s tech billionaire boyfriend, James Franco.
Stephanie Fleming (Zoey Deutch) has been dating Franco’s Laird Mayhew for months without telling her parents. After he pops up naked during a toe-curlingly awkward FaceTime call Stephanie invites her staid small business owner father Ned (Cranston), mother Barb – (the brilliant Megan Mullally) and teenage brother Scotty (Griffin Gluck) to visit her in California to meet Laird.
Once they land at the always shirtless Laird’s modernist glass mansion in California, they soon see the uncouth youth is an eccentric, self-made gaming billionaire, with a potty-mouth and no filter who pays his house manager Gustav (Keegan-Michael Key) to attack him in a style reminiscent of Pink Panther character Cato, to keep him on his toes.
John Hamburg of I Love You, Man and Meet the Fockers fame manages to keep the laughs coming in a film that is essentially a more modern take on the Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller classic.
It’s no surprise that Cranston, who made his mark in comedy Malcolm in the Middle, slots back so easily into the comedy lane. His angry and exasperated reactions to Laird’s bizarre behaviour are seamless, and pairing him with Mullaley of Will & Grace fame, provides plenty of laugh out loud moments, although it’s unclear what she sees in serious old Ned.
The film literally runs on toilet humour, such as a scene where Cranston is trapped on a high-tech toilet with his underpants around his ankles after coming down with a violent tummy bug. Wife Barb seems to have more success.
Franco finds his groove in the role of the fatherless Laird who doesn’t seem to like wearing a shirt and says exactly what he’s thinking. A question of typecasting maybe? He looks like he’s having plenty of fun with the character whose behaviour will literally make you squirm at times.
Unfortunately, Deutch is somewhat overshadowed onscreen by Franco and Cranston, much like her character, but veteran comic actress Mullaley manages to steal every scene she’s in. More please. Why Him? is a real laugh out loud or LOL affair, which shows Cranston has lost none of his comic timing, and Franco finds more of his.
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