‘Why Him?’ is a step up from other recent raunchy Christmas movies

It’s like that old saying: The third raunchy Christmas movie of the season is the charm.

Following in the footsteps of the ugly, hateful “Bad Santa 2” and the waste-of-a-terrific-cast “Office Christmas Party,” “Why Him?” had an admittedly low bar to clear. But while the previews may look frightful, the movie is unexpectedly delightful — depending on just how much James Franco you can tolerate.

Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston), the owner of a Michigan printing company, is a man of simple tastes. He loves his life, his employees and every moment he gets to spend with his family: wife Barb (Megan Mullally), daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) and 15-year-old son Scotty (Griffin Gluck).

But during Ned’s 55th birthday party, when he receives a surprise video chat from Stephanie that’s broadcast onto a wall at an Applebee’s, Ned learns she has a boyfriend when Laird (Franco) lets himself into her Stanford dorm room and starts removing his pants.

Seeking a chance to showcase Laird’s good side, Stephanie invites her family to spend Christmas in California where, much to their surprise, they learn Laird is a Silicon Valley millionaire — albeit one who uses F-bombs the way others use prepositions.

Making it tougher to see past Laird’s rough exterior is the fact that he’s oft-shirtless, covered in tattoos including her face over his heart and their family Christmas card photo across his shoulders, and has a collection of “art” that’s mostly paintings of random animals procreating and a real dead moose suspended in its own urine.

Naturally, the straitlaced Ned is appalled, but Laird is determined to spend the weekend getting Ned to not only like him, but let him call him “Dad.” That last bit is crucial because Laird plans to use the family outing to propose to Stephanie. And that last bit sets off what’s supposed to be a battle of wills between the two men but is really just an excuse for another string of crude jokes.

If all of this sounds a bit like “Meet the Parents”/“Meet the Fockers,” at least director and co-writer John Hamburg, who wrote the script along with Ian Helfer and shares a “story by” credit with Jonah Hill, is only ripping off himself, as he wrote both of those movies as well.

Franco’s Laird hires “Top Chef’s” Richard Blais to open a pop-up restaurant in his mansion for the weekend, gets Steve Aoki to DJ his Christmas party and has his whole compound covered by a sassy, Siri-like artificial intelligence that he paid “The Big Bang Theory’s” Kaley Cuoco to voice.

“Why Him?” just may be the actor’s most Franco-y role yet — possibly even more Franco-y than his Franco-nian masterpiece, cornrowed rapper Alien in 2012’s “Spring Breakers.” It’s just a joy to watch him naively cause so much havoc in the Flemings’ lives, but then I’m an admitted Franco-phile.

The game-for-anything Cranston is much closer to his “Malcolm in the Middle” roots than his acclaimed “Breaking Bad” mode. Nothing shows off an actor’s range, though, quite like going from “I am the one who knocks” to “I am the one who’s at the mercy of a malfunctioning Japanese toilet.”

He and Mullally are great reactors to the wackiness surrounding them, more than a little of which is caused by Gustav, Laird’s estate manager/life coach, played in a clever turn by Keegan-Michael Key.

“Why Him?” isn’t a great movie. It’s barely even a good one. But I found myself laughing much harder and far more often than I expected — which was not at all.

You know exactly where “Why Him?” is going from the opening moments, but there are some filthy curves and gonzo detours along the way.

“Why Him?” The better question is, “Why not?”

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buddy V - Sep 21 Confidante
Famous Infinity Mirror Room is open in Las Vegas
Yayoi Kusama's "Aftermath of Obliteration of Infinity" mirror room is open at the Bellagio in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Glittering Lights dazzles Las Vegas
The Glittering Lights holiday display is shining at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Mat Luschek/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Skybar at Waldorf Astoria lets you sip your way through Las Vegas history
Skybar At Waldorf Astoria Lets You Sip Your Way Through Las Vegas History (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stan Lee in Las Vegas for Madame Tussauds unveiling
Stan Lee Las Vegas speaks with the Review-Journal's Chris Lawrence about his love for his fans and shared universes. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ultimate Belgium Waffle Sundae at Lavo
Lavo at the Palazzo serves a 16-scoop ice cream sundae that costs $800. (Rochelle Ricahrds, Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel lLas Vegas Review-Journal)
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like