"surprisingly decent comedy with more hits than misses and fantastic comedic performances from James Franco and Bryan Cranston"
Bryan Cranston hasn’t really done comedy since he played Hal in Malcolm in the Middle, which ended in 2006, shortly before becoming best known for his portrayal of Walter White in Breaking Bad. Since the show finished in 2013, he has continued to do dramatic roles and he is finally making a return to comedy.
Cranston’s decision to pick Why Him? seemed dubious at first thanks to unconvincing trailers but now it is understandable. It is hilarious, smart and with some original set pieces.
He stars as Ned Fleming, the straight-laced owner of a paper-making company, who discovers his daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) has found herself a boyfriend while at a college in California, except her love interest isn’t a student, but a famous gaming/tech billionaire. She invites Ned, mum Barb (Megan Mullally) and younger brother Scott (Griffin Gluck) to meet the boyfriend, Laird (James Franco).
Laird is brash, vulgar, heavily tattooed and constantly swears, instantly putting Ned off him. When Laird reveals he wants to propose to Stephanie, Ned is absolutely against the idea so Laird tries to win his approval while Ned tries to sabotage their relationship.
Comedies are rarely funny these days but Why Him? is a surprisingly decent effort with more hits than misses and many laugh out loud moments, cringeworthy scenes and crazy stunts and set pieces. Sure, it does try too hard in places and does rely on the use of swearing and shouting for laughs on occasion, but it’s far better than expected and above the recent comedy offerings.
It is a joy to watch Cranston do comedy and he is fearless and so, so funny, but he is not the star of this, it’s Franco. He is perfectly cast as Laird and he fully owns the character. It feels like he’s playing himself and he steals every scene. Will & Grace star Mullally also scores some big laughs in one of her biggest film roles to date and Gluck impresses.
The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco is a genius addition as the voice of Laird’s in-house artificial intelligence and Keegan-Michael Key is over-the-top as Laird’s heavily accented estate manager/personal trainer/life coach.
What’s also surprising is the trailer didn’t ruin all the best jokes, which happens so often. There were many moments I was not expecting and the ending could have been a sappy mess but it was fun and edgy the entire time. Highly recommended.