“Why Him?” stars Bryan Cranston as Ned Fleming, an overprotective father, who travels to Los Angeles with his wife, Barb (Megan Mullally), and son, Scotty (Griffin Gluck), to visit their daughter, Stephanie (Zoey Deutch), for the holidays. When they meet Stephanie, they are introduced to her boyfriend, Laird Mayhew (James Franco), a billionaire whose vulgar, gregarious, and blunt personality makes it hard for him to interact with people. Ned doesn’t like the fact that Stephanie is dating him, but she insists that he is a nice person and that he makes her happy.
Laird reveals to Ned that he plans to propose to Stephanie on Christmas Day, but will only go through with it if he can get Ned’s blessing. Ned refuses, leading Laird to go above and beyond to win him over, as well as Barb and Scott. Ned schemes to foil Laird’s plans.
Whenever a comedy is made, it should be expected that the film has some funny parts that make you chuckle at the very least. Apparently, the writers and the director missed that memo. The film tries to match the kind of raunchy humor in a Judd Apatow production, but doesn’t have any subtlety. Most of the jokes have the quality of an obnoxious comedic short video on YouTube. It’s easy to predict what jokes are going to come, like how one of Laird’s rooms has a dead moose in a container full of urine. You know that at some point the container is going to break and everyone will get drenched in urine.
What makes this film pitiful is the waste of the comedic talent of Cranston and Keegan-Michael Key, who plays Laird’s bodyguard/self-defense instructor. These actors have a wide range in acting abilities, with Cranston being the more credible performer.
Franco once again plays the same “idiot with the heart of gold” character that he played in “Pineapple Express” and “The Interview” that has become embarrassing to watch. You don’t buy that he somehow is the brains behind a mobile gaming app company and that he can manage his estate and finances. You also see certain body parts of Franco that you wish you didn’t.
On the other hand, the two performers who play it straight are Cranston and Deutch. They are the only actors who have believable chemistry with each other. These scenes almost feel out of place, since it’s the only time the film feels reasonable. However, these scenes are too few and far apart and can’t polish this mess.
It’s clear that everyone involved was having fun, but in the end, that doesn’t matter since the audience doesn’t get the same experience. They get a film that’s all over the place with what kind of comedy it wants to be, immature jokes that a middle school student would call out and an embarrassing title to add on all the actors filmography. These actors deserve better material and the audience deserves that even more.