It’s the season for families to gather together. In Why Him? it’s finally time for proud father Ned Fleming to meet his daughter’s new boyfriend. Following a well-trodden comedy formula, he’s not the son-in-law every dad dreams of.
Laird Mayhew (Franco) is an oversharing, eccentric Silicon Valley billionaire who prefers not to wear a shirt. His openness with flowering sexuality and obsession with the word ‘fuck’ doesn’t gel well with Cranston’s stuffy pencil-pusher. He’s a built an empire (read: small 30-person company) on manufacturing vinyl signs: he doesn’t understand anything founded after MySpace.
Franco’s relentless weirdness is hilarious. The sheer hedonism of it all (from a live-in pop-up chef to his revered ornamental tank of boar piss) makes for a totally absurd environment, and a surprisingly lovable character. What follows is 90-and-a-bit minutes filled with a handful of great comedic moments, strung together with some holiday-season family sentimentalities.
The slowly-bubbling clash between Laird and Ned leads to big laughs as it slowly comes to the boil. Legendary sketch comedian Keegan-Michael Key takes these scenes to the next level with always unexpected but perfectly-timed lines and looks.
After a while, the routine of Franco shirtlessly bringing up sex and apps while Cranston sneers disapprovingly gets tired. If you’re easily bored by family drama, you’ll find yourself waiting too long for the next laugh.
The belly laughs do come, eventually, along with a heap of other surprises. If you know the San-Fran tech startup scene that Why Him? parodies, one scene in particular will have you giddy.
Why Him? creates some explosive comedic moments. When they catch you off guard, it’s funny and a little thrilling. Between these moments, it’s an entirely predictable family-fallout plot with a wholesome message. Your friends might like it – your parents will love it.
CAST: Zoey Deutch, James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Megan Mullally
DIRECTOR: John Hamburg
WRITERS: John Hamburg, Ian Helfer (story and screenplay), Jonah Hill (story)
SYNOPSIS: Over the holidays, overprotective dad Ned (Cranston) and family visit their daughter at Stanford, where they meet their biggest nightmare: her well-meaning but socially awkward Silicon Valley billionaire boyfriend, Laird (Franco). The rivalry develops,and Ned’s panic level goes through the roof when he finds himself lost in this glamorous high-tech world and learns that Laird is about to pop the question.