Why Him? | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Why Him?

John Hamburg’s R-rated comedy shuffles out a tired premise and hangs it with a slew of witless gags

Last week, movie audiences were applying the “What is your why?”line from Collateral Beauty to that misguided dramedy. This week, they’ll be asking “Why this?” at Why Him? John Hamburg’s R-rated comedy shuffles out a tired premise, re-sets it at the holidays for maximum last-reel feels and hangs it with a slew of witless gags (now with more profanity!). The big-idea laugh here is the generation/cultural gap between a middle-aged Michigan dad (Bryan Cranston) and his daughter’s boyfriend, a Silicon Valley hipster-doofus zillionaire (James Franco, doing his thing). 

So we get jokes about high-tech gadgets that already feel dated (that our toilet technology is decades behind Japan’s is nothing to laugh about); assorted fecklessness from another rich man-child (he steals a Christmas tree, naughty boy!); gags that announce themselves hours in advance (countdown to the moose-floating-in-moose-urine piece of art breaking …); and yet another Steve Aoki cameo. 

This meet-the-parents (ahem) riff has been done better before (and didn’t require the presence of two members of a 1970s rock quartet awkwardly airlifted into the last reel). If you’re simply going for the raunchy humor, you should also lower your expectations: You’ve heard it all before. At least the movie cops to the out-of-date set-up — that we’re watching a father and a potential husband fight over who gets the woman, though this isn’t setttled until the final scenes. 

Some decent comic actors are lost in this, including Keegan-Michael Key, saddled with a silly accent; Megan Mullally; and Andrew Rannells, the funniest actor on Girls who gets only a line or two. But then there’s Elon Musk, who should stick to gadgets rather than gags.

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