'Why Him?' follows a familiar course with middling results

Ned (Bryan Cranston) and Laird (James Franco) face off. Photo Credit: Scott Garfield.

Why Him?
2.5 out of 5 Stars\
John Hamburg
Writers: Jonah Hill, John Hamburg, Ian Helfer
Starring: Zoey Deutch, James Franco, Bryan Cranston
Genre: Comedy
Rated: R for strong language and sexual material throughout
Recommended to: Those looking for a semi-funny film that pushes the limits of good taste

Synopsis: Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston) loses his mind when he realizes that Laird Mayhew (James Franco), his daughter’s rebellious, uncouth billionaire boyfriend, is about to propose.

Review: The narrative about a father who disapproves of his daughter’s boyfriend is an evergreen device. It’s also a tired, overly formulaic and generally by-the-numbers affair. The story begins with seemingly mismatched lovers and ends with a message about how we shouldn’t judge a person by their appearance. Which is true. Of course “Why Him?” differs in the sense that it goes overboard with its vulgar gags and childish behavior from all involved.

Yes, it feels like we’ve been here before as “Why Him?” races down the familiar path of rapid-fire comedy where audiences are hit with a barrage of jokes that from time to time hit their mark. It’s not that “Why Him?” is a bad film, it’s actually slightly better than I expected, but it is ultimately it’s not remotely as devilishly clever as it needs to be. Were it not for the dueling banjos, James Franco and Bryan Cranston, there wouldn’t be much point in seeing the film.

But they do have Cranston and Franco and that’s just enough to justify the entry price for those looking for what has become the prototypical R-rated comedy experience.

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