Title: Casa de mi Padre
Director: Matt Piedmont (‘Funny or Die Presents…’)
Starring: Will Ferrell, Diego Luna (‘Y Tu Mama Tambien’), Gael Garcia Bernal (‘Zorro Reborn’) and Genesis Rodriguez (‘Man on a Ledge’)
Shooting a film based on the current sociocultural differences between America and Mexico can be a taunting task for any filmmaker. But deciding to film the movie as a comedy in an entirely foreign language, Spanish, and casting a main actor who also doesn’t know the language can pose extreme technical and social issues. But director Matt Piedmont, writer Andrew Steele and Will Ferrell, who previously worked together on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and ‘Funny or Die Presents…,’ successfully captured the telenovela dramatics plaguing the American-Mexican drug war in the new comedy ‘Casa de mi Padre.’
‘Casa de mi Padre’ follows Armando Alvarez (played by Ferrell), who has lived a simple life working on his father’s ranch in Mexico. As his father begins experiencing financial difficulties, Armando’s younger brother, Raul (portrayed by Diego Luna), arrives with his new fiancee, Sonia (portrayed by Genesis Rodriguez), to help save the ranch. While Armando admires his brother for being a successful businessman who plans on settling all debts their father has incurred, he is shocked to discover Raul is really a drug dealer. As Armando contends with Raul’s illegal business, and the war that starts with Mexico’s most feared drug lord, Onza (portrayed by Gael Garcia Bernal), he unexpectedly falls for Sonia.
Piedmont and Steele took a risky move when deciding to film the comedy in Spanish, as neither speaks the language. But the two still created a story with an entertaining homage to a variety of genres, including telenovelas and Spaghetti Westerns, that also reflects the contemporary sociocultural conflicts between the U.S. and Mexico. Working with translators, the filmmakers amusingly satirized the overly dramatic, romantic theme seen in the popular Spanish format through the love triangle between Armando, Raul and Sonia.
In the same relationship between the brothers, ‘Casa de mi Padre’ showcases Armando’s disappointment over his younger brother’s choice of work. Armando feels it’s immoral for Raul to be trafficking drugs into America and harming innocent people. But Raul, a slick and suave international businessman, shows no guilt over anyone becoming addicted to his products. He points out that Americans choose to do drugs, and they’re the ones settling the ranch’s debts.
Piedmont subtly infused the serious message of the wrongs of drug trafficking between Mexico and the U.S. Americans usually view drug trafficking as a Mexican issue, as there’s a heavy market for there, while Mexicans say they sell the drugs across the border because so many Americans want them. The director points out that the problem can be fixed if everyone works together to stop the sale of drugs.
‘Casa de mi Padre’ features an amusing cast of both American and Mexican actors, who are all rightfully respected in their respected genres. Ferrell, who is known for improvising, didn’t get to inject much of his own humor into the movie, as he had to memorize his lines phonetically, But he still spontaneously showed Armando’s naive side through his body language and movements. Luna has said that working with the ‘Saturday Night Live’ alum was one of the funnest experiences in his career, as he was fully committed to bringing his character to life in a completely foreign language to him.
Luna and Bernal, who are both native Mexicans and are friends and business partners, also proved their versatility as actors in the film. While both are better known for their dramatic roles, and their characters in ‘Casa de mi Padre’ are rivals, the actors brought their joking rapport to the screen, and both showed the satirizing nature of the plot. Rodriguez, who was the first actress to audition for Sonia, was also a perfect choice to appear in the comedy. Primarily known for appearing in such telenovelas as ‘Prisonera’ and ‘Dona Barbara,’ Rodriguez, who made her feature film debut in ‘Casa de mi Padre,’ perfectly captured both the comedic tone and satirical nature of the popular television genre.
Ferrell, Piedmont and Steele made a risky decision in making a movie in a language they aren’t familiar with, but their comedic, satirical approach to shooting ‘Casa de mi Padre’ helped make the film memorable. With a talented cast from America and Mexico that wasn’t afraid to improvise and satire the important sociocultural problems plaguing the two countries, the film will make viewers debate the important issues. While laughing at the characters’ overly dramatic antics, audiences will undoubtedly see the changes that need to be carried out between the two countries.
Written by: Karen Benardello