You know this story. It’s been done a million times. Girl meets boy, father doesn’t like boy, boy tries to impress father, even they win each other over and everyone is happy (Spoiler alert? Is it? It’s just so formulaic, I don’t think it can count as a spoiler). In this case, the girl is Stephanie (Zoey) a beautiful college student who is extremely close to her father. The boy is Laird (James Franco), the rough-as-guts-but-very-hot founder of a tech company – complete with heaps of swearing, tattoos and wearing very few clothes. The father is Ned (Bryan Cranston) who comes from his conservative home with his wife Barb (Megan Mullally) and teenager son Scotty (Griffin Gluck) to meet this new man in his daughter’s life. Of course, Ted can’t accept Laird for his little girl and hilarity ensues.
The big question – is it funny. Yes. Yes, I really liked this film. It didn’t matter that the story is as old as the hills, somehow, this really worked. One part that worked well was the fact that the key aspect is not played up too much – yes, if Laird was a poor guy living in squalor, he wouldn’t stand a chance. But he didn’t need to be that wealthy – that was kind of just a bonus. I felt that I could easily see a fairly conservative father meeting a tattooed, swearing man and reacting in similar ways. Then, there is the quality of the cast – Bryan Cranston is great at physical comedy (go watch Malcolm in the Middle if you don’t get it), but he is also great at being understated. James Franco was great as this innocent dumbarse who is actually not dumb, but actually quite naïve and sweet, but it’s hard to see that past all the swearing and inappropriate sexy-talk. Megan Mullally is wonderful at whatever she does, I really have never been let down by that woman. And add to that the hilarious Keegan-Michael Key for bonus comic effect.
Bryan Cranston was the one thing that I thought could be the saving grace of this film, and I was pleased to be surprised overall by a fun and silly film.