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The Will Ferrell movie ‘Casa de mi Padre’ is an intentionally eclectic nod to several classic entertainment genres. “Most of the inspiration for the movie came from old Mexican movies and Spaghetti Westerns and even old, classic Hollywood films with dramatic themes. Telenovelas were the little extra flavoring on top thrown in,” director Matt Piedmont says.
“Probably the easiest label to put on this movie is that it’s a little bit of an homage to telenovelas, it kind of dips its toe into all of that and yet at the same time its more complicated than that. It’s a telenovela meets bad kind of Mexican-Western meets a Tarantino film. It’s all of these fun elements rolled into one. It’s not just the joke of a telenovela movie, it comments on all these things,” Ferrell sums up.
Will Ferrell in a Spanish language romance action adventure send up required a stouthearted director, which Ferrell knew he had in Matt Piedmont.
“We felt his visual style and zeal for this kind of project would create a nice collaborative spirit,” Ferrell says.
“Honestly, I loved everything about it,” Piedmont says. “I thought the script was brilliant. Of course it was funny but it also had drama, action and weirdness – all the stuff I love. It has a story that could be told in a uniquely visual way. The chance to do a movie with shoot-outs and an emotionally satisfying story sold me.
We tend not to worry about the humor part since we all see the world through a comic lens anyway and that part always seems to take care of itself. The fact that it was going to be entirely in Spanish didn’t throw me. In fact it made me giddy that we were committing to something so wholeheartedly,” Piedmont says.
The “collaborative spirit” was genuine and also hearkened back to the trio’s days at Saturday Night Live and then on Funny or Die. ‘Casa de mi Padre’ was an opportunity to get the band back together.
“Andrew and I shared an office as writers on SNL and all three of us have very similar sensibilities. Thought we usually wrote our own stuff solo, we always loved what the other did and of course both loved writing for Will. I left the show and had begun directing a bunch of my own stuff, and then we were reunited again for the HBO Funny Or Die series that Andrew had been hired to completely run. It was a great experience. So when he sent me the script for Casa to do, I absolutely loved it and immediately said yes. It had everything,” Piedmont recalls.
For writer Andrew Steele, writing a comedy entirely in Spanish was particularly tricky, especially since part of the joke is that the dialogue is often purposefully stilted, bad and therefore funny.
“I don’t speak Spanish so writing the script was a little worrisome for me. After I finished the English version, I had to find a translator who was willing to sit down with me and go over practically every line. The script is intentionally formal at times and at other points, it breaks down into what looks like very bad writing.
I love bad writing. It’s hard for a translator to read it and not want to fix things that I deliberately wrote poorly. I felt sorry for the guy because in the audition phase, actors would actually tell me the translation was bad. They would say something like, ‘Well, no Mexican would speak that way.’ And I would have to explain that ‘No American would speak that way either.’ And they would either get it or they would not,” Steele explains.
NALA Films, which produced and financed ‘Casa de mi Padre’, definitely got the joke.
“They had me at Will Ferrell in Spanish,” says Emilio Diez Barroso, NALA Films CEO. “It’s Anchorman in the telenovela world. Working with Matt, Andrew and Will was a phenomenal experience and the movie is a perfect fit for our company. It’s a commercial Hollywood mainstream movie with Hispanic sensibilities.”
Image Courtesy of Casa de mi Padre