REVIEW: Will Ferrell delights in new film "Casa de mi Padre"

By Tiffany Linter, special to Xpress

First came a crazed frat guy, then a culture shocked elf. Then came a high-strung news anchor, followed by an over-the-top NASCAR driver. Now, Will Ferrell has crafted another hilarious and memorable role, a Mexican daddy’s-boy.

His newest film, “Casa De Mi Padre” is about Armando Alvarez, a man who lives with his father on their poverty stricken ranch. Armando is much like the Ferrell characters we have known and loved–a socially awkward, unintelligent man.

But there’s a twist. He speaks only Spanish throughout the movie.

When Armando’s brother–the golden child–Raul (played by Diego Luna) comes home with his bride-to-be Sonia (played by Genesis Rodriguez), hope is restored that the ranch will survive. Things become intense when it is rumored that Raul is a part of drug trafficking ring to the United States and Armando begins to fall in love with Sonia. Armando sets out to find out if Raul is really a part of the drug trafficking and at the same time steals Sonia from him.

Ferrell didn’t speak much Spanish before the film, which has English subtitles.

“It’s kind of an out of body experience,” said Ferrell in a conference call when asked about learning a new language. “It was weird for language to be the first part of concentration, acting almost came third because it was all I could do to memorize Spanish. Then my focus was on pronunciation, because I didn’t want the joke of the movie to be that I spoke Spanish poorly. I wanted it to be so you were halfway through the movie, and it sneaks up on you that you’re like ‘oh my god, I’ve forgotten that he doesn’t speak Spanish.’”

If Ferrell’s primary focus was to perfect his Spanish, he was in good company. The cast included several Spanish-speaking movie stars including Diego Luna, Genesis Rodriguez and Gael Garcia Bernal–all award-winning actors known for their work in film and television. Another notable actor in the film is Effren Ramirez, who is best remembered as Pedro from “Napoleon Dynamite.”

The production value–or lack thereof–is all part of the joke. Everything from the horrible fake sets, to the animatronic tiger and partial love scene with a manikin, are intentionally awful.

“We knew that it could [add] another level to the comedy, along with the premise of me speaking Spanish and the jokes that go along with the movie,” said Ferrell. “I was like, ‘we should have more mistakes.’”

Like most Ferrell movies, “Casa de mi Padre” is likely to spur plenty of inside jokes for viewers to share with other friends who have seen the film. Catch it in theatres starting Friday, March 16.