Will Ferrell is a native speaker. Not in Spanish - the language he comically shows some command of in Casa de Mi Padre - but in the language of lowbrow parody.
There he is, casting his squinty eyes across the sagebrush, playing Armando Alvarez, the dimwitted son of a Mexican rancher, cackling with his two sidekicks (Adrian Martinez, Efren Ramirez) as they sit atop their steeds, savoring a joke about women and cows.
They laugh way too long, over nothing really, and that's probably the response Ferrell and his director, Matt Piedmont, hope to elicit from audiences, too. A goofball send-up of the cheesily overdramatic telenovelas that are a staple of Latin American television, Casa de Mi Padre finds Ferrell working with the Y Tu Mama Tambien boys - Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna - the beautiful Genesis Rodriguez, and a cast of game Spanish-speaking thespians in a stormy saga of fraternal conflict, father/son favoritism, drug dealing, and true love.
Shot in "Mexico Scope" and boasting a blazing title song from Christina Aguilera, Casa de Mi Padre is set somewhere in modern-day Mexico, where the Alvarez ranch - presided over by the aging patriarch Miguel Ernesto (Pedro Armendáriz Jr.) - has fallen on hard times. (Veteran actor Armendáriz died last year, and the film is dedicated to him.) But Armando's younger brother, Raul (Luna), shows up seemingly in the nick of time, bringing with him his fiancée, Sonia (Rodriguez), and assurances that he can put the ranch back on sound financial footing.