Why Him? Review


For as long as I can remember, raunchy R-rated comedies that come out during the holiday season is a very rare thing. However, there’s been a new crop of raunchy holiday movies that have been coming out recently. Harold & Kumar, The Night Before, Office Christmas Party, Bad Santa 2 are just some of the recent examples of some of the holiday counter-programming that Hollywood has been releasing in the past few years. Why Him? is just the latest example of this weird trend of raunchy, R-rated Christmas films. Does Why Him? distance itself from the other R-rated holiday comedies or does it get lost in pile?

Unfortunately, Why Him? doesn’t do much to distance itself from other raunchy, R-rated holiday comedies but it’s still a hilarious film. With Franco and Cranston as its stars, Why Him? is an unorthodox holiday comedy filled with a rapid fire of hit or miss jokes.

Why Him? follows Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston) and his family as they visit the home of his daughter’s (Zoey Deutch) eccentric boyfriend (James Franco). When Laird Mayhew asks Ned for his blessing to marry his daughter, Ned does whatever he can to stop that from happening.


Why Him? is a concept that was concocted by Jonah Hill, John Hamburg, and Ian Helfer. On paper, it should be a hilarious Meet the Parents style romp but on a raunchier level but, unfortunately, it doesn’t quite deliver on its promise. Don’t get me wrong, Why Him? is absolutely hilarious but the script by Hamburg and Helfer is seemingly structured to allow the actors to improvise. With that kind of structure, the jokes come flying at a rapid pace with the jokes hitting more often than not. However, there are several instances where unfunny scenes drag on more than they should. When the jokes hit their mark, though, they’re utterly down right fierce. That’s because the comedy ranges from low-brow, juvenile comedy to satirical.

The Meet the Parents shtick is something that we’ve seen plenty of times before but Why Him? switches things up and tries to be different from all the others. There are a lot of unexpected surprises that come your way in the film. Yet as much as Why Him? tries to be different from other “meet the parents” films, the one constant that stays the same is its heart. Even with all the profanity and juvenile jokes, the film still has a good amount of heart. Much of it coming from James Franco.

Behind his profanity-laced dialogue and douchebag look is a character who’s an incredibly kind soul. Franco is a lot of things in the film which is the reason why he did such a great job. He’s brash, endearing, funny, naïve, clever, illogical, and more. That’s quite a range for a seemingly one-dimensional character. Bryan Cranston is essentially playing himself here but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Cranston is a charismatic father figure and channels his inner Hal again.


Surprisingly, the comedy team of Franco and Cranston isn’t the best part of the film. As a matter of fact, their scenes together aren’t that funny. It’s only when a funny situation requires them to interact when each other is when they become funny. It’s not Franco or Cranston’s fault, though, the fault stems from the material that was given to them.

It’s Keegan-Michael Key that absolutely steals the show. With his faux-German accent and over-the-top performance, Key delivers some of the funniest moments in the film. Of course, that’s to be expected because the man is really funny with any role he’s doing. Megan Mullally is funny as well with her deadpan performance. The weak link in the film is Zoey Deutch who plays her character really well but, unfortunately, her character is frustratingly annoying.

Overall, Why Him? is a fun holiday film that’s a nice change of pace if you’re looking for a different type of family film. It may not be perfect or funny from beginning-to-end but the film is still an amusing ride that’s backed by its comical cast. At the end of it all, you’ll be satisfied like you would be at a holiday feast.

Rating: 3/5 atoms
NR 3 Atoms - C

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