Review: Why Him?

Why Him? is a 2016 Christmas comedy directed by John Hamburg and written by Jonah Hill, John Hamburg and Ian Helfer. The story follows conservative and protective father, Ned, as he goes with his wife and son to spend Christmas with his daughter and her new boyfriend, Laird (James Franco). Ned, played by Bryan Cranston, couldn’t be more against the idea of Stephanie marrying a guy, let alone a guy like Laird… who couldn’t possibly more of an unintentionally subversive and irritating man in Ned’s eyes. The story revolves around Ned and Laird’s relationship between each other, yet Ned’s wife, Barb (played by Megan Mullally) and son, Scotty (played by Griffin Gluck), and of course daughter Stephanie (played by Zoey Deutch), are also big parts of the story. I saw this film thanks to Gofobo on behalf of the IU Cinema and 20th Century Fox, and didn’t really know what to expect going in; the trailers were funny to me, but a comedy can be either hit or miss, even and especially if the trailers are great. So, was this film as funny as the trailers? Yeah… it was so much funnier than I thought it could have been. And it’s all thanks to James Franco, and Bryan Cranston. But is there more to this film than the comedy?

As I said, comedies are extremely hit-or-miss, and the trailer usually has all of the funny parts in it which makes the film even more less funny since the jokes have worn off. This was not that movie at all; sure, the jokes in the trailers weren’t as funny in the film since we’ve seen them but there were many that were not in the trailers at all that made me and the rest of the audience howl with laughter- and laugh almost to tears at that. I had a huge smile on my face for at least the first 30 straight minutes without stopping, and that was such a relief. The jokes were usually predictable, and not all of them hit, but the ones that did hit, hit hard, and it was a happily welcomed surprise. The comedy was all due to the relationship between Laird and Ned and Barb- and how Ned and Barb react to Laird’s personality. Laird is extremely unfiltered, and Ned’s family is extremely well put-together, and these two personalities don’t mix well at all, which is where most of the humor lies.

That being said, it seems that the focus on all character development is for the purpose of humor, and since the main humor lies between Laird and the parents, the children are a little underdeveloped, and so is Barb, for that matter. The most important aspect of the film, and the one thing that the entire movie revolves around, is the relationship between Laird and Stephanie, but we aren’t really given any reason to get behind them being together. It seems that they spend most of the movie bickering rather than showing the audience why we should support them and why we should be against Ned trying to get between them. I can see Ned’s point of view by being against them, but Laird is such a lovable and silly character that I naturally cheered for him as well- which means that I cheered for his relationship- but not his relationship specifically with Stephanie, but rather I just wanted Laird to be happy as well. It could have been with Stephanie or Rachel or Allie or Tom or whoever, I don’t think I was given much of a reason to get behind Stephanie, but rather Laird instead. Laird and Ned were both pretty good characters, and extremely-well portrayed, which made them so much fun to watch.

Also, this film had much more character growth than I expected to see. I thought it would be pretty flat, unfunny and predictable- and why it is predictable, it was far from being flat or unfunny. Both Laird and Ned have great character development throughout the film, and their feuding-turned-chemistry was the strongest aspect of the film for sure. As I said earlier, the other characters weren’t developed as much but they were still good for many laughs that the film gave us- especially in regards to Barb. Since this is a Christmas film, the ending is fairly predictable, though the film was not without it’s surprises too. The type of humor was mainly sexual, with a bit of gross-out, but a lot of smart humor as well that played off of situational comedy between the characters. Also, Keegan Michael Key was hilarious in his role, which was a great addition to the rest of the humor. Lastly, this doesn’t seem like the most original movie as it reminded me of a mixture between Pineapple ExpressJames Franco, as well as a story we’ve seen countless times about a boyfriend trying to impress some parents- but this is that story with a fun and new look, which I really enjoyed.

Overall, Why Him? is easily one of the funniest films I’ve seen this year, and although the story was predictable and some characters felt underdeveloped, the relationship between and the portrayal of Ned and Laird by Bryan Cranston and James Franco, respectively, were marvelous, and the movie is worth seeing for them alone. I’d say to this movie if you love offensive comedy, but if you’re looking for an extremely original comedy, you may be slightly disappointed, but the comedy should make up for it. I’ll give this movie a solid 7/10, and a green recommendation. It won’t be for everybody, but there will definitely be people who have a lot of fun with this comedy. Have you seen this movie yet or are you thinking about seeing it? Let me know! As always, thank you for reading and I’ll see you soon!

Published by Blake Carson Schwarz

Indiana University graduate in Media and Creative Writing. I love to write my own stories as well as experience the work of others. On this site, I post reviews, essays, and other fun posts that I hope you have as much fun reading and I have writing. Please share any comments you have, I'd be happy to hear what you think! *Never a critic, always a fan*

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