Shot in “Mexicoscope” by director Matt Piedmont (TV’s Funny or Die Presents …), the movie casts Ferrell as dumpy ranch hand Armando Alvarez who inadvertently gets mixed up in the drug war between his favored brother, Raul (Diego Luna, Contraband), and Raul’s nemesis (Gael García Bernal, Babel). To further complicate matters, he falls for his brother’s breathtakingly gorgeous bride-to-be (Genesis Rodriguez, Man on a Ledge).
However, Ferrell doesn’t play his usual dunderhead, and Padre is not your typical Ferrell film. Fans who appreciate his more absurd bits will appreciate it most, because the jokes rarely are verbal. They’re all in the presentation, which is rife with purposeful continuity errors, not to mention objects and landscapes that are real in one angle and fake in the next. A talking panther integral to the plot is portrayed by an animatronic stuffed animal. As with the early Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker output (long may they reign), close attention is rewarded.
Admirably, the film’s adherence to the telenovela’s sweeping, soapy, over-the-top dramatics is as sticky as Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s was to drive-in wares in Grindhouse. I didn’t laugh out loud a whole hell of a lot, but again, that’s not the point when the story is more or less told straight. But I sure did smile, widely and consistently.
Stick through all the credits for a fake commercial with a surprise guest star. If you like that — it’s definitely a highlight — there are a few more would-be ads tucked in the disc’s special features. ¡Maravilloso! —Rod Lott