James Franco stars as Silicon Valley billionaire Laird Mayhew, a self-made young man whose life was spent writing codes and designing apps, leaving him clueless about how to read a room and appropriately modulate his behavior in the uproarious R-rated family comedy “Why Him?”
Laird’s social skills are completely acceptable to his girlfriend Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) and to the millennial circle he belongs, but does not sit well with Stephanie’s dad, Ned (Bryan Cranston). Ned, a small-town father, owner of a struggling mid-sized printing business in Michigan, is complete opposites with Laird who is making billions in the digital realm.
During Ned’s 55th birthday party, Stephanie joins the event via Skype to send well wishes to her dad from her Stanford dorm room. The Flemings and their party guests are surprised by an unexpected (and naked) introduction to her new boyfriend Laird…or at least a part of him. Distraught over the fact that Stephanie has uncharacteristically been hiding something from him, Ned begrudgingly agrees to travel with the family to spend the holidays in California to meet his daughter’s first serious boyfriend. Ned, along with his wife Barb (Megan Mullally) and son Scotty (Griffin Gluck) experience what it’s like to live in the eco-friendly home of a Silicon Valley billionaire:
- Laird’s sprawling hipster estate in Palo Alto is as minimalist as it can get for more space to move around.
- Meals served are from lawn-to-table. His house is surrounded with hectares of lawns where he keeps an array of animals, trees and vegetables.
- The expansive “smart house” is completely paperless, bathrooms included.
- The home also features an omnipresent operating system named Justine, a virtual concierge voiced by Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco, who can field questions, give feedback and track activity and conversations from room to room.
- The center of the home is an enormous installation of a giant moose submerged in a tank of its own urine.
- The majority of the paintings on display in the movie are mostly James Franco originals.
- No bodyguards. Laird’s home is also where Gustav (played by Keegan-Michael Key), his friend and mentor, tutors him in evasive Parkour as a means of self-defense.
But it’s not just the film’s outrageous stunts or wild physical comedy that’s likely to stick with moviegoers. Cranston, for one believes the truly relatable story of a devoted father finding a way to embrace the unconventional tech billionaire his daughter loves that’s at the center of “Why Him?” will resonate with viewers. It’s a funny family comedy about acceptance and connection.
“A lot of comedy is derived from the differences between us and is best when born in a sense of reality,” Cranston says. “If an audience leaves a theater and had a lot of laughs, that is a value in itself. If an audience laughed and actually felt something, that’s the rich experience we hope to achieve.”
Rated R-13, “Why Him?” opens February 1 in cinemas from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.