Why Him?

 

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Meet the boyfriend: he’s crude, obsessed with your daughter’s body and very, very rich….

 

Why Him?

All in for the family: James Franco, Zoey Deutch, Bryan Cranston, Megan Mullally and Griffin Gluck

 

There are two things a parent should never witness: the death of a child and their daughter making out. There is actually a catalogue of sexual humiliation in this gross-out farce, which follows the Meet the Parents template. This time it’s the boyfriend to meet and greet.

 

Bryan Cranston and Megan Mullally play Ned and Barb Fleming, the middle-aged parents who fly from Michigan to California to stay with their daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch), who’s studying at Stanford. Although booked in at the Sheraton, Ned and Barb find their plans hijacked by Steph’s new boyfriend, Laird (James Franco), who is ten years older than she. But so besotted is Laird with the young Miss Fleming that he’s had her name tattooed on his pec, has built a bowling alley in honour of her father (complete with a Ned Fleming mural) and transformed the Flemings’ Christmas card into another tattoo on his back. Of course, Ned takes an immediate dislike to the man, in particular Laird’s neediness, foul language and obsession with Stephanie’s body. The fact that Laird is an internet billionaire really has no bearing on his opinion – Laird Mayhew is completely nuts.

 

There must be a limit to the extremes of the gross-out formula, although John Hamburg's limply titled Why Him? does try to push the envelope in new directions. The biggest laughs, though, come at the expense of Laird’s pretentious lifestyle, be it the dining on edible soil and newspaper or the bizarre artworks that litter his designer home. Most of the players are on pretty good form, too, with a neat cameo from Kaley Cuoco (Penny in The Big Bang Theory), who plays a disembodied voice in Laird’s lair who eavesdrops on one and all in order to offer technical (and personal) advice. However, Keegan-Michael Key as Laird’s German estate manager is a total misfire (Key certainly can’t do a German accent). But the film, for all its pat conclusions, certainly does have its moments.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Zoey Deutch, Megan Mullally, Griffin Gluck, Keegan-Michael Key, Cedric the Entertainer, Zack Pearlman, Adam DeVine, the voice of Kaley Cuoco, and (as themselves) Richard Blais, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley.

 

Dir John Hamburg, Pro Stuart Cornfeld, Dan Levine, Shawn Levy and Ben Stiller, Screenplay John Hamburg and Ian Helfer, from a story by Jonah Hill, John Hamburg and Ian Helfer, Ph Kris Kachikis, Pro Des Matthew Holt, Ed William Kerr, Music Theodore Shapiro, Costumes Leesa Evans.

 

21 Laps Entertainment/Red Hour Productions/TSG Entertainment-20th Century Fox.

111 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 26 December 2016. Cert. 15.