The familiar father vs fiancé premise is given a 2016 reboot with Bryan Cranston and James Franco filling in these roles. Why Him?, directed by John Hamburg, features Ned Fleming (Cranston), an overprotective father who’s stuck in the past, evidenced by his failing print business and numerous out-of-date references (at one point referring to a tattoo as a “too”).
The action takes off when his daughter, Stephanie, takes the family to stay with her boyfriend, Laird Mayhew, (Franco), for Christmas. Ned, a reserved old school family man, finds himself instantly at odds with Laird, who is an eccentric, vulgar, socially awkward, Silicon Valley millionaire. Antics ensue throughout as Laird cozies up with the family but struggles to win Ned’s blessing for Stephanie’s hand in marriage. Franco plays to his comedic strengths as the vulgar man-child he is typically cast as. The movie has a relevant message of embracing change and differences and plenty of jokes and entertaining celebrity cameos to keep viewers smiling throughout.
Unfortunately, Why Him? settles for being an average movie by leaving some of the story’s issues unaddressed and a horrible decision to cast Megan Mullally as Ned’s wife Barb. Her encounter with a bidet and her bedroom scene with Cranston give her perfect opportunities to cash in on laughs, but she fails miserably in both instances. I couldn’t help but think how much funnier those scenes, and the entire movie for that matter, would have been if a proven comedienne like Melissa McCarthy or Kathryn Hahn had been cast as Barb instead of the underwhelming Mullally.
Despite those disappointments, Franco’s familiar character, along with the always entertaining Keegan Michael-Key, provide enough laughs to make this movie worthwhile.