Rogue comic Will Ferrell recently turned up in an Old Milwaukee commercial exclusively for the Davenport, Iowa, local market; the obvious next career move, then, is Casa de Mi Padre, a modern-day tortilla Western/telenovela spoof entirely in Spanish. Squinting into the middle distance with "the eyes of a small chicken" and expressively mangling hand-rolled cigarettes, Ferrell plays Armando Alvarez, the dull-witted son of a widowed rancher (Pedro Armendáriz Jr.) whose preferred heir, brother Raul (Diego Luna), has turned to drug trafficking, sparking a violent turf war with rival dealer Onza (Gael García Bernal). There has always been a flamboyant, sartorial element to Ferrell's comedy, and it's clear that he and director Matt Piedmont, a former SNL writer, love the melodrama they're parodying—the protracted death scenes and abrupt musical numbers, the streaming golden light, the Catholic-Mayan iconography, the blood-splattered white roses. Casa de Mi Padre riffs freely on impoverished production values—phony painted backdrops and the reflection of the camera crew in a DEA agent's sunglasses—but the humor doesn't target only south of the border. Like any good genre product, Casa also smuggles in rude social criticism, as when Armando memorably describes drug-addicted Americans as "shit-eating crazy monster babies."
Ferrell speaks Spanish, tongue firmly in cheek.
Opens Fri., March 16 at Pacific Place and other theaters. Rated R. 102 minutes.