Why Him? Holiday comedy led by hilarious performances from Bryan Cranston, Megan Mullally, and Keegan-Michael Key.Bad Santa, Sisters, Office Christmas Party, etc.) Why Him? has an all too familiar premise and some lackluster characters, but it provides some genuine laughs and features hilarious supporting performances from James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Megan Mullally, Zoey Deutch, and Keegan-Michael Key. Laird (James Franco) is a Silicon Valley multi-millionaire who owns several tech companies that are booming. He is 32 and is in love with 22 year old college student Stephanie (Zoey Deutch). Stephanie’s conservative parents Ned and Barb (Bryan Cranston, Megan Mullally) and younger brother Scotty (Griffin Gluck) are coming to town for Christmas. Little do they know, Stephanie and Laird have been dating for a year, practically live together, and Laird wants to propose to her. In a Meet the Parents had it been R-rated style, chaos ensues as the small town middle class family clashes with tattooed, F-bomb throwing, hard partier Laird.
So the plot to Why Him? is a bit been there done that. That would be fine if the characters were interesting enough, which in this case they are few and far between. Laird is a typical by the book douchey tech bro who relies on swear words and sex jokes to get by. Stephanie is perhaps one of the most uninteresting love interests to grace the silver screen in a very long time, in fact, she pretty much disappears for two-thirds of the film. This is all ok as Ned and Barb, perfectly played by Cranston and Mullally, make up for the lack of interesting leads, as is Keegan-Michael Key and Laird’s life coach assistant. Cranston is a phenomenal actor whose popularity has grown the last few years due to the very popular hit series Breaking Bad. He plays Ned, the uptight small-town business guy who loves his wife, kids, and the band Kiss to perfection. He wears the dad jeans and sweaters, and can hold hilarious facial expressions during outrageous freakout moments. Mullally, a truly gifted actress when it comes to comic timing, deserves to be in more movies! She’s never looked better and still has her iconic Karen voice from Will & Grace. Her Barb is a funny fit to Cranston’s Ned, and their marriage is utterly believable. Keegan-Michael Key is the beating heart of the comedy, providing much needed laughs after several stale moments. He plays the personal assistant who does everything, including troubleshooting a high tech remote control toilet that, um, does everything, literally. Why Him? has an appropriate title. When watching the movie, it’s hard to really justify what Stephanie sees in Laird, but then again, Stephanie isn’t all that bright a character herself, regardless of how many times her parents have to constantly remind us of how brilliant she is. Franco does his best, replete with tattoos and butt crack hanging jeans, to make Laird funny. Is he believable as uber rich millennial Laird? Absolutely. Is he really all that funny? Not all the time. And then there’s Zoey Deutch. She’s the typical girl next door of 2016, you know, the one who sports yoga pants, fresh highlights, cute small plaid shirt, and kind of just sits there and stares into space like she’s thinking about ordering a tall skinny pumpkin spice latte. Needless to say, she’s beautiful, and gets overshadowed by everyone else including Top Chef alum Richard Blais and even Kelly Cuoco’s voice.
Why Him? is mostly harmless fun. It’s lots of sex jokes, lots of bodily humor jokes, and lots of sex jokes. Raunchy humor is fun, but some of Why Him’s humor tends to be a little more on the creepy side than harmless (like showing a 12 year old gang bang pictures? Or constantly telling Stephanie’s Mom how hot her body is in explicit detail?) But alas, Why Him is what it is, a chaotic comedy that clashes two cultures together: the older generation of conservative middle class Americans who work hard for their money, and the young uber rich tech industry bros who make millions in their sleep. When Why Him works, it’s really quite funny and when it doesn’t, thankfully Cranston, Mullally, and Michael-Key do their best to provide laughs and keep the comedy going until the epic finale that makes exquisite use of Kiss’s greatest hits.