Contemporary comedies all seem to adhere to the same basic structure that is often found in Judd Apatow movies. The Judd Apatow principles are as follows: it must be over the top, excessive swearing must be included, and it must–against all odds–have a heartfelt ending. Oh, and might as well add some bestiality and incest jokes for good measure because the writers have already bottomed out in the departments of both dignity and talent. All of these factors helped to birth the monstrosity of Why Him?
Why Him? was directed by John Hamburg (Zoolander and Meet the Parents) and the story came, in part, from the mind of Jonah Hill (credited with a story by mention). It should be said that while Judd Apatow’s DNA has nothing to do with the film, the movie does follow his general cinematic structure found in films such as Knocked Up and Trainwreck.
The film centers on a father Ned (Bryan Cranston) who realizes he’s not as close to his daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) as he thought when she reveals she’s dating a pretty disgusting guy named Laird (James Franco), who also happens to be a billionaire. The plot has been done to death already: girl finds bad boyfriend, parents disapprove, but this movie takes the generic plot to a whole new level of absurdity. Laird tries desperately to win her parents over with ridiculously lavish gifts and even tattoos their family’s Christmas card on his back. He does all of this in order to win their affection but for some reason he cannot comprehend why her parents would find it distasteful when he speaks about having sex with their daughter in great detail. It’s not funny, it’s downright preposterous. Laird is portrayed as a goofy but loveable idiot but, in reality, he is anything but. He’s incredibly stupid, irritating, and crude. It’s hard to imagine any parents ever coming around to such a person but they do. They always do.
When Ned does not approve of Laird proposing to Stephanie, the audience is intended to side with Stephanie who says her father is being unfair. In reality, Ned is a normal, concerned father who doesn’t want his daughter to be with an idiot. In fact, he is fairly open-minded to his daughter’s choices in men considering he saw him pulling his pants down in Stephanie’s dorm room during a skype call. The audience is supposed to think that antics like this are funny but it holds no comedic weight and relies only on shock value.
To be fair, the only somewhat funny character featured in the film is Gustav (Keegan-Michael Key), who is Laird’s butler of sorts and, for some explicable reason, has a German accent. Key has perfect comedic timing and the scenes that feature him are the only genuinely funny parts of the film though his talent is not fully utilized. Key’s comedic ability is wasted on such an embarrassing excuse for a movie.
In the end, of course, Stephanie and Laird stay together and the parents approve and it’s obvious from simply looking at the poster that this is an inevitable outcome. However, the ending doesn’t make sense. In just a few scenes prior to Ned giving Laird his blessing, the two of them get in a fistfight that which ends in the entire family becoming drenched in a wave of moose urine. Yes, this really happens. Five minutes later, all wrongs appear to have been forgiven. This outcome is as unlikely as Kiss walking down the cold winter streets of a Midwest suburb–which also happens at the end of this film.
Verdict: 0 out of 5
The problem with this film is that it features a plotline that has been done to death and it gets tiresome after the first ten minutes. Most of the jokes in the film are about either genitals, sex, masturbation, and bestiality. The vulgarity only gets worse as it goes on. Contemporary comedies seem to be trying to one-up each other by feature more and more disgusting content with each release. Every joke seems to be based more on shock value than actual comedy. Crude jokes are basically any untalented comedy writer’s fallback because it doesn’t require any real comedic expertise to throw in a joke about testicles. Contemporary audiences deserve better than this poorly-written cinematic garbage.