Review: ‘Why Him?’ will make you ask ‘Why This Movie?’
Holiday comedy has heart, but not enough to make up for all of its shortcomings
Like “Meet the Parents,” but littered with F-bombs, “Why Him?” is a holiday comedy that never quite figures itself out.
Bryan Cranston, who didn’t spend five years of his life on television’s best drama to be the rube to James Franco’s sex jokes, plays Ned Fleming, which in screenwriter terms might as well be Squarey McSquareson. He’s the owner of a Grand Rapids printing business (read: hayseed) whose daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch, “Everybody Wants Some!!”) has a new boyfriend she’d like him to meet over Christmas.
That boyfriend is Laird Mayhew (Franco), a heavily tattooed, free-spirited and foul-mouthed Silicon Valley millionaire with all the social graces of a teenager at a Travis Scott concert. “Why Him?” asks us to believe Laird would greet the family of his prospective wife by dropping a string of F-words on them, and, furthermore, asks the audience to think a string of F-words is, in and of itself, funny.
The hit or miss jokes mostly revolve around Laird’s extreme wealth and social ineptitude, though Kaley Cuoco does score laughs as the voice of Justine, Laird’s Siri-like in-home artificial intelligence system.
Get past the premise, the execution and the general unbelievability of it all and “Why Him?” isn’t all bad. Outside of being a championship-level doofus, Franco’s character means well and isn’t secretly scheming on his girlfriend the way characters in movies like this often are.
“Why Him?” is generally good-natured; even its raunchiest jokes are delivered with a smile and a hug. Like Laird, it really wants to be liked, it just doesn’t know how to go about it the right way.
Rated R for strong language and sexual material throughout
Running time: 111 minutes