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Casa De Mi Padre

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A film filmed entirely in Spanish? Has Will Ferrell gone loco?

In Casa de mi Padre, Will Ferrell plays a fuzzy-headed man-child who has to step up to defend his family, and his brother’s smokin’-hot girlfriend, from a drug cartel — with help from two misfit pals and a talking white tiger.

So far, so Ferrell. Problem is those Mexicans speak actual Mexican (you know, Spanish) and so too, for that matter, does the rest of the cast, including Ferrell himself. Oh, and the tiger. You can almost hear the popcorn drop.

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“If it sounds Spanish,” the opening voiceover from Nick Offerman (who plays a corrupt border patrolman and whose comic talents you can seek out in Parks and Recreation) attests, “that’s what it is. A Spanish movie.”

It has real Mexican actors, Gael García Bernal hamming it up as the drugs baron and Diego Luna as Ferrell’s seedy brother; while Génesis Rodriguez (who graced our March issue) plays the smouldering señorita.

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The man who gave us Ron Burgundy is surely not expecting Armando Alvarez to be Hollywood’s latest comedy anti-hero (for starters, for most gringos, Alvarez is a lot less quotable).

The movie isn’t even a conventional comedy — it’s too affectionate of the genres it sends up (spaghetti westerns, Latin telenovelas, grindhouse) to be an all-out spoof; the melodramatic script is mostly played straight, the humour coming from purposefully corny writing and continuity errors.

Is it career sabotage? Certainly director Matt Piedmont and writer/producer Andrew Steele, both Saturday Night Live alumni, seem to revel in a scene in which Armando and his brother discuss the Mexican drugs trade, calling Americans “shit-eating crazy monster babies” who shouldn’t be entrusted with their own moral welfare — a daring sentiment that probably won’t be shared by some chest-bumping Talladega Nights fans.

Maybe it’s the whim of a successful actor doing what the hell he wants. Certainly given Ferrell’s latest career moves — Everything Must Go, a small indie based on a Raymond Carver story about (guess what) a depressed alcoholic; a Super Bowl beer ad that was only shown in North Platte, Nebraska — he doesn’t seem fixated on the mainstream. (Although he and Zach Galifianakis will be playing rival presidential hopefuls in Jay “Meet The Parents” Roach’s new film, The Campaign, out in the US in August — so the pay checks are still rolling in.)

Or maybe it’s just a chance to stretch himself, to cut loose. Luna described improvising in Spanish with Ferrell, whose grasp of the language is minimal: “Will would look straight at me with a face like ‘I can’t believe you are saying this,’ but the reality was that he was thinking ‘what is this guy saying?’”

Having told The New York Times that we are living through one of the “more creatively timid times in Hollywood,” Ferrell later claimed to have “17 projects in development, mostly in Spanish, some in Korean and one in German”. Whatever he’s up to, Will Ferrell is clearly enjoying himself.

Casa de mi Padre is out on 8 June


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