Armando Alvarez (Will Ferrell) is a rancher in Mexico who works diligently on the land of his father (Pedro Armendáriz Jr), and one day when out with his cattle his friends observe he seems more interested in the livestock than he is in women. He is forced to agree, and admits he still has not found the love of his life, a lady who appeals to him as much as his beloved landscape, and they allow themselves to laugh about that for a few minutes. Then it is time to return home, but along the way they catch sight of drug dealer Onza (Gael García Bernal) executing an underling...
Fancy a comedy poking fun at Mexican telenovelas directed by, written by and starring three white guys who made their name on Saturday Night Live? Put like that Casa de mi Padre didn't sound too appetising, another example of Americans sending up those funny foreigners, yet on watching it you'd discover a work surprisingly dedicated to an incredibly specific target, even to the extent of having the cast perform almost exclusively in the Spanish dialect. This included Ferrell having only one line of dialogue in English, which for some reason turned a lot of his fans right off, not wishing to watch him in a different language.
This in spite of that dialogue being subtitled very sympathetically to the spirit of the deliberately stilted humour, very much Ferrell's stock in trade when it came to his spoofier endeavours. This meant the film was essentially a flop, and as if the studio was uncertain of how broad its appeal would be was barely given much of a publicity push in its home country, but for those who took a chance they would be pleasantly rewarded with jokes which were easily laugh out loud as the better examples of Ferrell's at times uneven sense of humour. It could be that his love of improvisation, which didn't always prove reliable, was held in check by having to stick to Andrew Steele's script, but here he was a funny as he ever was.
And at times funnier. The plot was emphatically histrionic, yet although the methods saw Ferrell at his most experimental, his straight faced irreverence was nicely matched by some deeply daft gags, often revolving around how unselfconsciously fake the production was. Therefore a tendency to depict stuffed animals in place of real ones was a running joke which got more hilarious the more you watched it, culminating not only in a spiritual guide of a white tiger or lion of some kind, but a love scene which started out arse-obsessed, then had Ferrell rolling around with a mannequin because we were supposed to think the actress involved had refused to take part in a nude scene. This could have been an overplayed hand, but was presented with such commitment that you couldn't help but chortle the further they went with it.
This affected fakeness even stretched to sequences which in a sane movie would be easier to film live action, such as Armando parking his truck outside the bar, so you can't accuse them of chickening out of their premise. The plot, predictably if you knew the milieu they were sending up, had Armando falling for the beautiful fiancée of his brother (Diego Luna, who in keeping with the SNL vibe was a dead ringer for Father Guido Sarducci with that moustache and those tinted glasses). Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez) resists his charms for so long, yet it's only a matter of time before she relents, but the fact that her uncle is Onza only complicates matters, though the most entertainment stemmed from such details as the ludicrous amount of smoking the characters indulge in - Onza even puffs on two cigars simultaneously at one point. Any racial queries would be defused by the relentlessly idiotic tone and obvious way everyone - Mexican and otherwise - was in on the goodnatured joke. Music by Andrew Fellenstein and John Nau.
[Studio Canal's Blu-ray has an interview with the late Armendáriz, spoof commercials, deleted scenes and a music video as extras,]