Arts & Leisure

“Why Him?” wastes Bryan Cranston

JAMES FRANCO and Bryan Cranston star in "Why Him?"

JAMES FRANCO and Bryan Cranston star in “Why Him?”

By Jim Tortolano

The title of the raunchy new comedy, “Why Him?” poses the real question. Why would Bryan Cranston, one of America’s finest actors, sign on to do a silly, lightweight movie like this?

LogoforMovieReviewAlmost universally applauded for his work in “Breaking Bad,” and “All the Way,” Cranston tries out his comedy chops in this piece of F-bomb fluff as Ned Fleming, as a middle-aged man who finds that his adored daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutsch) is deeply involved with every straight-laced dad’s worst nightmare.

James Franco is Laird Mayhew, an Internet-age millionaire who is equal parts profanity and earnest effort. Words which are NSFW tumble out of his mouth four or five to the sentence, and he speaks openly of his carnal desire for Stephanie – all this in front of Ned and mom Barb (Meg Mullally).

Ned, of course, is horrified and the majority of the film involves Laird’s fumbling efforts to win Ned’s permission to marry Stephanie. Most of the gags are telegraphed or borrowed or both, and the reliance on bathroom humor and blue language stretches the R-rating almost to the breaking point.

fairmovielogoThere are a few smiles and chortles to be had, and Mullally channels Tiny Fey – whom she resembles strongly – pleasantly. But Cranston is clearly out of his element here. Perhaps he is trying to extend his acting range into slapstick, but he is not at home on this range. The movie title “Why Him?” comes out more as a lament than anything else.

“Why Him?” is rated R for language, brief nudity and sexual subject matter.

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