Why Him? | James Franco meets the parents, but Bryan Cranston is the one who's on edge

Why Him? Bryan Cranston James Franco
(Image credit: Scott Garfield)

Why Him? Bryan Cranston James Franco

Of all the guys his daughter could have chosen... 

A farcical generation-gap comedy in the vein of Meet the Parents, Why Him? pits another socially awkward young man against his girlfriend’s zealously over-protective dad.

Here, however, it’s James Franco’s uninhibited Silicon Valley billionaire Laird who has the upper hand when Bryan Cranston’s crusty Midwestern patriarch Ned and his wife Barb (Will & Grace’s Megan Mullally) pay a Christmas holiday visit to his lavish California mansion.

Indeed, it’s Ned, horrified at the prospect of Laird marrying his daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch), who lands in one embarrassing situation after another as he strives to thwart the match. Confronted with the uncurbed Laird’s foul tongue, brazen tattoos and hi-tech modernist house, fuddy-duddy Ned is hopelessly at a loss.

Unfortunately, director John Hamburg (co-writer of Meet the Parents and its sequels) is similarly ineffectual in his efforts to milk the situation for laughs. The more Franco swears or flashes his tats, the less funny things become, although Keegan-Michael Key as Laird’s wacky assistant does raise the odd chuckle with his Pink-Panther-style, martial-arts ambushes of his boss.

Certificate 15. Runtime 111 mins. Director John Hamburg

Why Him? is available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.