In many ways Why Him? is the perfect wind-down movie – it’s light, very entertaining, consistently funny and has genuine heart at its core. It won’t leave a lasting impression but for its 1hr 51min runtime you get a very enjoyable, breezy comedy that plays to its impressive cast’s strengths.
James Franco is perfectly cast as Laird Mayhew, a young entrepreneur who has made millions creating a series of popular mobile games. He has fallen in love with Stephanie Fleming (Zoey Deutch) but she hasn’t quite got around to telling her parents about him. But what better time than the holidays, when dad Ned (Bryan Cranston) and mum Barb (Megan Mullally) come to visit her in college. Laird desperately wants them to like him, but he’s not their first choice for suitor.
Why Him? manages to take a relatively simple and familiar premise but keeps things interesting throughout. It also does this by not leaning on stereotypes, so there’s a freshness to the proceedings and a desire to not rely on tired clichés.
What sets this aside from the usual rubbish is the fact that Laird is actually a nice guy you can root for. He may swear like a sailor but his heart’s in the right place at all times, which makes the comedy more believable. Franco is great, delivering his usual brand of sharp comedy mixed with a healthy dose of slapstick.
Playing the straight-laced father is Bryan Cranston who bounces off Franco to create some great chemistry. Again, it would have been very easy for this character to be a stern caricature but this doesn’t happen thanks to a savvy script by John Hamburg and Ian Helfer, based on a story concept by Jonah Hill (yes, that Jonah Hill).
I’m a massive fan of Megan Mullally and she once again steals the film, this time as Barb Fleming. Her chemistry with both Cranston and Franco is superb and her one-liners are exceptional. Perhaps the best (and most hilariously awkward) scene in the film finds Mullally and Cranston having an unwelcome, intimate conversation on their bed with Franco, who just happens to be dripping wet at the time. It’s comedy gold!
Zoey Deutch is slowly making a name for herself after strong turns in Everybody Wants Some!! and Dirty Grandpa. Why Him? gives her a decent role and she does well as the object of affection. Elsewhere, Keegan-Michael Key is excellent as Laird’s personal assistant/butler and his natural flair for comedy is well utilised throughout.
Why Him? is a light and entertaining comedy that does exactly what it needs to. It’s just the right amount of silly, with genuinely solid performances from everyone involved. The concept will get you so far but it’s the chemistry between the cast that sells this. Why Him? is a great way to spend some time and enjoy a bit of escapist fun.
Cast: James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Megan Mullally, Zoey Deutch, Keegan-Michael Key, Cedric the Entertainer Director: John Hamburg Writer: Jonah Hill, John Hamburg, Ian Helfer Released By: 20th Century Fox Certificate: 15 Duration: 111 mins Release Date: 1st May 2017