Written and Directed by Josh Hamburg (most notably the writer of all three Meet the Parents films) addresses a discussion a friend and I were having recently. We were talking about films having familiar plots. My take on this is that I do not generally care if a film has a plot point we “have seen before”. If it does it well? I am not going to be annoyed by it. There are only so many plots, and I cannot think of many films that told a tale that has previously unseen elements. But there is a flip side to this. A story that follows all the familiar points like a rigid map? Rarely is it done well.
Which brings us to Why Him. Like many comedies before it, we are treated to a tale of parents meeting their potential son-in-law and the resulting calamity. Going in? I wanted to like this film…almost desperately. I mean, Bryan Cranston has proven himself as an actor almost always worth watching. And both Megan Mullally and Keegan-Michael Key are gifted comedic performers. James Franco is…well he plays some exaggerated form of James Franco in almost any film he is in…and this film is not much of a change there.
It feels like the film is trying very hard to seem unpredictable and edgy. And yet it follows the rules of family conflict comedies so steadfastly that there is not doubt where the film is going to end. You see it all coming from miles away. There is no point where Why Him swerves right when you expected it to swerve left.
Are there times where I was amused? I guess. Were there any times where the movie surprised me…not a one. This is not a smartly made dumb comedy. This is an uninspired dumb comedy.