During the past few evenings, Iâ€™ve had the good fortune to catch some of the biggest SXSW Film comedy premieres. The first one is Casa de mi Padre, the telenovela spoof starring Will Ferrell.
Before I describe Casa, a little backstory: As much as I wanted to see this film, I had nixed it from my movie list because it had only one screening scheduled at Alamo Drafthouse Lamar at 5 p.m. Alamo Lamar has the reputation of being one of the â€œhard-to-get-intoâ€ SX-theaters because the auditoriums are smaller (the largest room seats 220, whereas the Paramount Theatre holds 1,200) and its south central location is just s SX Film-shuttle away from the Convention Center. But while checking seating availability online for another film on Virtual Status Board (vsb.sxsw.com), I noticed that there was a 7:15 showing of Casa. Alamo Lamar happened to be on my way home and it was just after 6, so I popped in to inquire about the screening. It happened that there was such a huge turnout for the 5 p.m show that a last-minute second show was added. Since the added screening was not on the film schedule, few people knew about it, and everyone in line got in, including ticket-buyers without badges or passes.
Filmed in Spanish with English subtitles, Ferrell plays Armando, a not-so-bright rancher of his fatherâ€™s farm in Mexico. (Farrell, who doesnâ€™t speak Spanish, had to learn the script and Spanish in a month.) His brother Raul, a successful businessman and his fatherâ€™s favorite, returns home to introduce his beautiful fiancÃ© to the family. It is soon revealed that Raulâ€™s business involves drug-trafficking and is wanted by La Onza, a drug lord. To complicate matters more, Armando is smitten by Raulâ€™s fiancÃ©, and finds himself having to save Raul and the ranch. The use of patently fake backdrops, scale-model setups for wide-angle scenes, and animatronic wild animals, along with Ferrellâ€™s brand of outright shameless silliness, only adds to the absurdity. Diego Luna plays Raul, and Gael Garcia Bernal plays La Onza. Both actors starred in the indie hit Y Tu Mama Tambien. While the subject of border violence is no laughing matter, I felt the filmâ€™s conclusion put a light-hearted, and even positive spin on improving border relations.
The film has just opened in limited release, and judging from audience response at the screeningâ€”loads of chuckles but few belly laughs, itâ€™s probably not going to be a blockbuster like Talladega Nights or even Anchorman.Â But Iâ€™m betting on the film achieving high cult status.
Look for my next post on Bernie, starring Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, and Shirley MacLaine, , directed by Richard Linklater and based on a true story about a small-town murder.