Directed by John Hamburg
Written by John Hamburg, Ian Helfer and Jonah Hill
Starring: James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Zoey Deutch, Megan Mullally, Griffin Gluck and Keegan-Michael Key
As a film critic, I try and see everything I can. As an amateur film critic, I try and avoid things that have the smell of a heaping pile of excrement. Once in a while, I end up sitting down in a movie that for various reasons I convinced myself that this was a film that I wanted to see, and I sit there and ask myself “Why this movie? Why did I think this would be a good idea?” The most recent film I saw to meet these criteria is the aptly titled “Why Him?” A comedy – putting generously – that like many contemporary R-rated comedies is crass for the sake of being crass. Something that I hate because, like most aspects of the cinema, raunchy comedy is an art, an art that should be approached delicately.
On paper “Why Him?” sounds like something that should work. You have a comedy starring Bryan Cranston, who gave brilliant comedic performances on the sitcoms “Seinfeld” and “Malcolm in the Middle,” and James Franco, also a talented comedic actor. You take these two comic talents and something that should have been resulted in a product similar to what you got with Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro in “Meet the Parents,” instead, the end product is akin to the sequels to “Meet the Parents.” Which, if you do not know, that is not high praise, at all. Cranston and Franco just fall flat; they are both trying too hard to this thing work. Franco is doing an overly exaggerated version of his usual shtick. While Cranston is playing the straight man version of his character on “Malcolm in the Middle.”
With a few exceptions, I have never hated watching a movie as much as I hated watching “Why Him?” Usually, I can find something to salvage from even the worst train wrecks, but with “Why Him?” I am at a loss to find anything that can save this sinking ship. Not even a cameo from Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of Kiss, and that is coming from a loyal soldier of the Kiss Army.
On the bright side, at least there are several movies either releasing or expanding into wider releases over the holiday weekend, giving you a plethora of viewing options at your local multiplex.