Release date:December 23, 2016
Studio: 20th Century Fox
MPAA Rating:R (for strong language and sexual material throughout)
Screenwriters:John Hamburg, Ian Helfer
Starring:James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Zoey Deutch
James Franco has to this point built a career out of playing losers and stoners with varying degrees of likability. In ‘Why Him?’ Franco takes this fine tuned personality to the next level as he pits his best millennial stoner character against Bryan Cranston’s fine-tuned stuffy Dad routine. The film is a typical father-hates-new-boyfriend story. But what takes this film to new levels is the way the millennial personality has been infused into this classic comedic trope. From the start of the film the dating and mating rituals of the millennials are brought right to the front as Franco flirts on a FaceTime chat with Cranston’s daughter played by Zoey Deutch. Deutch is smart and sweet and does a great job of conveying a young woman who is both confident of her own strengths and unafraid of her affections for the man she loves. It is this duality of person that drives the comedy throughout the film as Cranston must come to terms with the realization that his baby-girl is a woman with her own mind and her own view of the world. One that isn’t confined to small town America like his own. Franco is at his best as he goes toe to toe with Cranston, trying to win the curmudgeonly father over so that he can get his blessing to wed his daughter. A plot device that seems, at first, almost out of place and overly traditionalist for Franco’s free-living no-boundaries character. By the end of the film however this doesn’t seem so contrived as the film finds its sweet ending, though maybe not in the way you’d expect along the way. Megan Mullaly also stands out in the film as Cranston’s wife and often steals the scenes she is in.
If you are a fan of films like ‘Pineapple Express’ you are going to be a fan of ‘Why Him?’ However, some viewers may be turned off by the high levels of vulgarity and toilet humor the film displays.