We’re pretty familiar with the plot of Why Him?: a college-age woman, Stephanie, (Zoey Deutch) introduces her older, free-spirited, billionaire boyfriend Laird (James Franco) to her family, which includes an overprotective but loving dad, Ned (Bryan Cranston). There’s tension, since Ned thinks Laird is extremely inappropriate for his daughter. In an attempt to win over Stephanie’s family at Christmas, Laird hosts them at his massive California mansion as he falls over himself trying to impress them with elaborate parties, gifts and gestures.
So yes, the trope of the inappropriate boyfriend is something we’ve seen many times. However, this take on the trope is one of the funniest in recent years. Despite my reservations going into this movie (I thought a Franco/Cranston pairing was too good to be true and would disappoint), this movie made me laugh. A lot.
Most of the film depends on Cranston’s ability to play the straight man against Franco’s off-kilter character, and it works pretty well. Laird is genuine and well-meaning, and it’s hard to really dislike the character even when so over the top. Laird’s over-zealousness may provide the core jokes of the film, but there are still many other amusing scenes. A special mention needs to be given to Keegan-Michael Key, who plays Laird’s loyal butler Gustav. He is hilarious and the comedic highlight of this movie. My favourite scene was heavy on the toilet humour, literally, and involved Cranston and Key in the washroom. Enjoy it for what it is.
If you’re walking into a movie like this, you’re not likely to be overly concerned with the details; you’re just going to want to laugh. This movie has lots of funny moments, and Cranston and Franco have great chemistry. For that, it’s worth a watch.