First Hit: A couple of out loud funny bits but in the end there is nothing there.
At best, this was a mediocre film. The concept of a wild youngish video game internet programmer making it big and falling in love with a young pretty smart Stanford girl from the Midwest is not too far fetched and could have been fun. The premise is that she wants her conservative family to meet him for the first time during the holidays and that this is where the fireworks and comedy are supposed to happen.
This premise had potential but where did it fail. For me, first and foremost was the poor writing. From the beginning Laird Mayhew’s (James Franco) character was poorly based and thoughtlessly conceived. Why make him hang around shirtless most of the time? What is the point of this? How many young game, internet developers and entrepreneurs do you hear about that hang out with only their loose pants on. Yes, they might wear hoodies and baggy clothing but shirtless is not the Silicon Valley style so this was missed completely. Second saying “fuck” 3 times in almost every sentence is not only off putting but unneeded to denote edginess. Lastly, the overdone staging and home filled with stupid art (some of it Franco’s own) including a preserved buffalo submerged in its own urine tries to make the case that young rich entrepreneurs have a interesting appreciation of art.
All this is the writers’ fault. The writers didn’t want to look for subtle or interesting ways to create comedic exchanges, everything here is overt, in your face and hammer like: Things like the art which was uninteresting. The overdone characters like Gustav (Keegan-Michael Key) who is Laird’s gentlemen’s gentlemen. The sets with programmers doing little in every room in the house. The helicopter landing in the middle of the street in front of Flemings’ home – just isn’t going to happen or be allowed. All of these things were overtly stupid just like Laird’s tattoo of the Fleming family on his back. All this and more made up the lack of thoughtful intelligent comedy.
Although the cast with Bryan Cranston (as Stephanie’s father Ned Fleming), Zoey Deutch (as Stephanie), Megan Mullally (as Stephanie’s mother Barb Fleming), Griffin Gluck (as Stephanie’s brother Scotty) and Franco was strong, every scene appeared to be approached like a tidal wave which was the real failing of this film.
Franco’s character was overdone and overbearing to make him at all believable. Cranston was as good as he could be with his given script. Deutch was solid enough but the script let her down. Muallally was OK and I will continue to repeat myself the script was her downfall. Gluck was OK as the son who wanted to come out of the shadows. Key was OK as the together person behind a unhinged Laird. Jonah Hill, John Hamburg, and Ian Helfer wrote this insipid mindless script. While Hamburg made the script worse with overdone scenes that were obvious and telegraphed.
Overall: This film is a waste of money and time and will probably not be profitable.