“Why Him?” is Funnier Than Expected

John Hamburg’s Why Him? (B-) is an amusing entry into a fairly tired “family versus fiancé” formula, thanks to strong casting in plum parts for the Christmas-set comedic ensemble. James Franco plays the Silicon Valley mogul at the film’s heart, relishing the role with his trademark wide-eyed wit and devil-may-care vulgarity. Enter the nuclear family as fish-out-of-water in his world: Bryan Cranston and Megan Mullally as the parents, Griffin Gluck as the impressionable little brother and Zoey Deutch as the daughter smitten with Franco’s man-child but still loyal to her pop. Keegan-Michael Key also has a funny role as Franco’s assistant/sherpa, trying to keep the rejuvenile in line. There are a variety of inventive gags, several somewhat believable set-ups and laughs aplenty as the holiday gathering culminates into full-scale calamity. Cranston and Mullally are fun in the straight man roles; and although the story gets a bit belabored, it’s generally the definition of “a fun rental.”

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