Will Ferrell is a magically wacky risk taker when it comes to comedy. So when Ferrell chose to produce and star in a telenovela spoof entirely in Spanish it seemed to be oddly logical.  The result of this recent journey into Will’s wacky world is Casa de mi Padre, a pleasantly amusing film about a simple-minded rancher, still living in his father’s house, and his drug-dealing brother.  Ferrell and his team, director Matt Piedmont and writer Andrew Steele, show a palpable affection for the telenovela genre as they meld it nicely with the violence of a Robert Rodriguez film and the cheesy production value of a 60’s western. Casa de mi Padre pokes loving fun at melodrama, bloodshed and forbidden love.

The action follows the beautifully stupid Armando Alvarez (Ferrell) and his disapproving father, Miguel Ernesto (Pedro Armendariz Jr.).  Miguel is overjoyed when his intelligent son, Raul (Diego Luna), returns home with his gorgeous bride to be Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez). Raul has made a great success of himself and he vows to save his father’s struggling ranch from financial ruin. But Armando soon stumbles across the truth about his brother; Raul is not a businessman as he professes.  Raul has made his fortune as a drug dealer and is currently at war with the ruthless overlord Onzo (Gael Garcia Bernal).  The set up is rather standard but the resulting plot is full of fun, tiny plot turns, tons of hysterically overblown violence and a few terrifically terrible musical interludes.

Casa de mi Padre is certainly not a laugh a minute comedy but it is a laugh out loud one.  The “jokes” may not be as plentiful as some of Ferrell’s other films (Anchorman for example) but there is a heartfelt quality to narrative that is truly endearing.  There is a sweetness in the relationships that serves the moments of humor well.  Most notably, when his ailing father reminds Armando that he has eyes like his mother, “Eyes like a small chicken”, Armando tearfully agrees.  If even there are fewer jokes, the ones that are there are worth it.  A priceless love making scene involving a mannequin as well as a surreal vision sequence provide some real belly laughs.  Best of all is when Onzo (Bernal) refers to Americans as “Shit eating, crazy, monster babies”.  There is certainly enough here to warrant a second screening and like Anchorman, the laughs may increase with each viewing. Ferrell does have a knack for comedies that seem to get funnier and funnier each time you go back to them.

The talented ensemble should be commended for their sincerity and charm.   They are all deftly capable and wonderfully committed.  Some moments even border on touching. Sadly, the wonderful Pedro Armendariz Jr. passed away after filming and the movie is dedicated to him.

And what of the elephant in the room, Ferrell’s Spanish speaking skills? Well, that may very well be one of the best parts of watching this film. Ferrell’s delivery is the perfect blend of the fluent native and the hard to hide gringo.

The truth about these kinds of comedies is that they tend to have a love/hate relationship with their critics.  Casa de mi Padre is not a film to be intellectualized or picked apart in a scholarly fashion.  Comedy sometimes defies explanation, and for good reason.  The analysis of a laugh is certainly the enemy of it as well.

Casa de mi Padre is wonderfully spoofy film; the audience will either relate to the humor or run from it.  But if you have laughed at Will Ferrell and his wacky ways in past, you may truly enjoy this 80-minute journey into the abundantly decorative, sometimes surreal world of Casa de mi Padre.