Why Him? (2016)

(On Cable TV, October 2017) There’s a regular number of R-rated comedies these days, but it seems to me as if they’re coming off an assembly line. Take a comedian, take a serious actor, throw them in uncomfortable situations, be sure to feature a copious amount of profanity and make sure to wrap everything in feel-good themes about family, friendship and/or romance. No worries if they all end up feeling familiar since there will be another one six weeks later. Why Him? is PG-13 rated despite feeling like an R, but it certainly struggles with déjà vu: in-between seeing Bryan Cranston as a conventional family man visiting his daughter’s nouveau-riche boyfriend played by an unhinged James Franco, the film seems to have been assembled from familiar blocks in order to give audiences exactly what they would be expecting from the poster, the premise and/or the trailer. Jonah Hill can be spotted as producer and writer, which certainly explains a lot about the film’s well-worn comic elements. It’s not that Why Him? is bad (although some individual moments of the film are obnoxious) as much as it’s the same as half a dozen other recent movies. At nearly two hours, there’s a lot of fluff to the result (most notably a final act that just drags on and on), making the movie feel even more generic. While set at Christmas, I would be exceptionally surprised if Why Him? became anything like a holiday classic—heck, even the very similar The Night Before has a stronger shot at that title.

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