Film Review: Why Him?

by Evan Brown

Rated M. Starring James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Zoey Deutch. Directed by John Hamburg.

“Of all the guys his daughter could have chosen…”

Well, it’s that time of year again. The Christmas decorations come out, Michael Buble comes out of hibernation for the year and the usual suspects of Christmas movies start showing up on TV and Netflix. To be honest I’m kind of tired of doing my annual ritual of watching Home Alone and Die Hard just before Christmas Day, so I was excited to hear about a new Christmas film – Why Him?  Perhaps this new Christmas movie will be a welcome addition to my Christmas viewing tradition…

Directed by John Hamburg (Zoolander, Meet the Parents) and co-written with Jonah Hill and Ian Helfer, Why Him? is your classic story of a young misunderstood Internet billionaire – Laird Mayhew (Franco) who tries to impress his girlfriend’s stoic and old school father Ned Fleming (Cranston) who has come over with his family for Christmas.

And that’s the story. What follows is 90 minutes of tragic comedy with a high level of coarse language and plenty of adult content, as you witness a relentless Laird try everything to impress an unmovable Ned. If you can look past the vulgarity and adult themes this movie is actually quite funny. There’s a constant bombardment of extremely awkward and bizarre scenes typical of Hamburg’s style of comedy that will have you constantly squirming in your seat yet laughing at the same time.

Whilst the familiar Why Him? storyline revolves around the idea of the younger generation seeking blessing from the older generation it also highlights a deeper issue of older generations failing to understand the fast-paced social media and meme-focussed 21st century. Ned is an old school man who owns a failing printing company that can’t keep up with the ever-changing times, whereas Laird is a billionaire philanthropist who owns a company that creates apps for phones.  Whilst Ned understands that his company is close to bankruptcy out of his own pride and his inability to adapt he refuses to take advice and help from Laird or his own son to save the family business.

This is a similar situation that I see in many Christian churches around the world where the younger generation feels their voice is not being heard by the elders of the church. This isn’t the case in every church however I’ve had countless conversations with frustrated millennials who just want to help but aren’t given the voice.  A verse that I am continually comforted and challenged by in regards to this situation is 1 Peter 5:5:

“All of you young people should obey your elders, In fact, everyone should be humble toward everyone else, The Scriptures say, ‘God opposes proud people, but helps everyone who is humble.”

Both the old and the new need to humble themselves before each other and before God because he is the ultimate instigator of change and development. You can have the latest social media strategy, the coolest video, the funniest meme (which are all good things) however it is God who makes all things happen.

The Verdict: Why Him? is basically a new generation’s Meet the Parents with a Christmas twist. If you’re tired of watching the same old Christmas movies every year add this one to your collection. It’s pretty silly, but also pretty funny. 2.5/5

Why Him? releases in Australia on December 26th, and in the USA on December 23rd.

For more movie reviews from a Christian perspective, connect with Reel Gospel on Facebook and Twitter.

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