The holiday season isn't complete without a decent comedy, and this year's entry is Why Him?, a Meet the Parents-style movie with major star power that ditches the overt sentimentality of other December titles in favour of crude jokes about moose testicles, pleasure-giving Japanese toilets, double-dicking and terrible tattoos.
Up-and-comer Zoey Deutch plays Stephanie Fleming, a college student who invites her family — father Ned (Bryan Cranston), the owner of a financially unstable paper and print company in Michigan; mother Barb (the always hilarious Megan Mullally); and younger brother Scotty (Griffin Gluck) — out to California for Christmas. But Stephanie has an ulterior motive: the trip is really more of an opportunity to introduce them to her new boyfriend, Laird (James Franco), a multi-millionaire tech tycoon with no filter.
Friction makes sparks fly almost immediately between boyfriend and father, especially once Papa Fleming finds out about Laird's plan to propose to his daughter on Christmas Day. But the pair strike a deal: if Laird can get her father's blessing in five days time, he'll go through with it. If not, the proposal is off.
The story was written in part by Jonah Hill, and after watching him skewer best buddy James Franco at his 2013 Comedy Central Roast, it's hard not to imagine this role was written with him in mind; Laird is an outlandish, over-the-top individual, and Franco plays him so perfectly it's almost hard to separate the character from the actor's peculiar public persona.
Before Breaking Bad, Cranston was one of TV's favourite dads on Malcolm in the Middle. His character is more of a straight man here, but whether he's having his taint tickled by a jet of toilet water or illegally cutting down a Christmas tree, the comedic chops for which he became known are apparent in almost every scene.
Director John Hamburg has made a career out of crafting comedies that appeal to the largest common denominator (think Zoolander, the Meet the Parents franchise and Sunday afternoon TV movie staple I Love You, Man), but Why Him? isn't for everyone; this is certainly the filmmaker's crudest effort to date, meaning that, unless your parents are pretty cool, this is probably the kind of movie the kids should go see while the rents work on Christmas dinner at home. (Fox)