Why the cheap jokes and crude humour?

Bryan Cranston (left) and James Franco are at odds with each other in Why Him?
Bryan Cranston (left) and James Franco are at odds with each other in Why Him?PHOTO: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

REVIEW / DRAMA

WHY HIM? (NC16)

111 minutes/Opens tomorrow/2/5 stars

The story: Ned (Bryan Cranston) visits his daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) in college and is horrified to meet her vulgar billionaire boyfriend Laird (James Franco). When Laird says that he plans to propose to Stephanie, Ned tries to sabotage him in every way possible.

The question asked in the movie title never gets answered in the movie. Just like Ned, audiences will remain bewildered by Stephanie's undying devotion to Laird even after the film ends.

Stephanie keeps reassuring her dad that Laird is a good person, but this is never shown to be true.

The guy never redeems himself, unless you count his half-hearted attempts to help Ned financially, and even then they are not enough to compensate for his otherwise rude and self-absorbed behaviour.

Neither is this a case of the girl being after the rich guy's money: Stephanie is depicted as a smart, independent girl whose life mission is to do charity work in Third World countries. Her personality and Laird's simply do not gel.

Even more perplexing is why acclaimed actor Cranston (TV's Breaking Bad, 2008-2013) would subject himself to a project containing horrendously cheap jokes - there is an extended scene where the Emmy winner has his pants down and gets sprayed in the face by toilet water.

That is just the least of the kind of crude frat boy humour used here, thought up by writer-director John Hamburg, who co-wrote the equally raunchy, but much stronger comedies Meet The Parents (2000) and Zoolander (2001).

Here, his idea of funny is to have a dead moose encased in a tank of its own urine and then have that tank flood the room and submerge the entire family.

Why him? Why this?

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2016, with the headline 'Why the cheap jokes and crude humour?'. Print Edition | Subscribe