Saturday, September 22, 2018
Things To Do

Review: Franco and Cranston in 'Why Him?' Why not!

Bryan Cranston punked us with that Breaking Bad thing, and each intensely dramatic role since. He's a stealth movie comedian, a sitcom refugee flying under the radar.

Folks who never watched Malcolm in the Middle hear that Walter White is making a comedy and wonder Why Him? when the hilarious point is: Why not?

Cranston and James Franco form the oddest coupling of the holidays, a flyover-state father visiting a smarmy NoCal tech mogul wishing to marry his daughter. Yes, it's Meet the Parents time again but flipped and filthier. Why Him? had me laughing louder, more often than most smutcoms do, a NSFW blusher delivered by a keenly comical cast.

It's a rehashed concept for director and co-writer John Hamburg, who wrote Meet the Parents and its Focker sequels without as many unprintable jokes. Hamburg sneaks in a classic rock band cameo, a tad more salacious than Rush in his entertaining debut as a director, I Love You, Man. Familiar can be fun in properly improper hands.

Cranston plays Ned Fleming, literally a paper pusher from Iowa whose printing business is being crushed by technology. Franco is Laird Mayhew, a conspicuous consumer of everything except shirts, apparently. Laird made his outrageous fortune in — wait for it — technology, creating friction he's too comfortably dumb to notice. This goofball isn't only stealing Ned's daughter but his masculinity, his purpose.

Laird tries too hard to impress Ned and wife Barb (Megan Mullally) with mansion lodging, gourmet health slop and cybertoilets. Who wouldn't love a son-in-law with a tattoo of her family's portrait, or bowling in a private alley decorated like Ned?

Each genial offense by Laird stirs Cranston's slow boil; he's a bundle of protestations too Midwest polite to spill over. Comedy for Cranston is simply another direction for his knack of expressing plenty by doing practically nothing. He's a funny listener, a perfect complement for Franco's ramblings. Entire scenes are built around Ned's reactions, genially provoked by Laird. It almost never gets old.

Hamburg surrounds his oil-and-vinegar stars with game comedians: Mullally gets a dirty running joke that's a new one for me, Keegan-Michael Key turns up as Laird's loyal butler/attack trainer, and Zoey Deutch manages to stake out a laugh zone as Ned's daughter Stephanie.

Why Me? sputters around the 90- minute mark, when raunchy ideas and even the funniest execution often expires. Before then, Cranston and Franco earn plenty of guilty laughs, doing what they do, one less often than the other.

Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.

Comments
Joe and Son's Olive Oils, a legacy Ybor business, finds new roots in Carrollwood

Joe and Son's Olive Oils, a legacy Ybor business, finds new roots in Carrollwood

Andrea Gebbia grew up in Carrollwood, and now she is bringing the family business to the neighborhood of her youth.In late fall, Joe and Son’s Olive Oils is slated to open a second location."I feel so blessed having the ability to grow my...
Updated: 18 minutes ago

Sports on TV/radio for Saturday, September 22

TODAYAutosMonster Energy Cup: Federated Auto Parts 4007:30 p.m.NBCSN; 102.5-FMBaseballGiants at Cardinals1 p.m.FoxRays at Blue Jays4 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMOrioles at Yankees4 p.m.MLBRed Sox at Indians7 p.m.MLBReds at Marlins7 p.m.FSFPadres at Dodgers (i...
Published: 09/21/18
Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea looks to succeed where others failed

Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea looks to succeed where others failed

RIVEVIEW – Amy Lin knows that her newest Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea store is in a location where previous businesses have not lasted.The short-lived Tap’s Brewhouse & Deli and even shorter-lived Top Shelf Sports Bar and Grill tried to r...
Published: 09/21/18
SoundBytes: The Midnight Hour, Dead Prez, Derez De’Shon, nothing,nowhere. and more

SoundBytes: The Midnight Hour, Dead Prez, Derez De’Shon, nothing,nowhere. and more

— Rising emo-rap artist nothing,nowhere., who opened for Fall Out Boy last fall at Amalie Arena, will headline the Orpheum on Nov. 24, alongside Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, Smrtdeath and St. Panther. Tickets are $18 and up. Click here.— ...
Published: 09/21/18
Watch: A southern white rhinoceros calf just a week after being born at ZooTampa

Watch: A southern white rhinoceros calf just a week after being born at ZooTampa

TAMPA — A southern white rhinoceros gave birth to a calf at ZooTampa on Sept. 12, marking the sixth successful birth of the species in the zoo's history. In a news release, ZooTampa said southern white rhinoceroses are a nearly threatened spec...
Published: 09/21/18
At 50, Clearwater's real-life superhero is hanging up his super suit

At 50, Clearwater's real-life superhero is hanging up his super suit

CLEARWATER — For two decades, Dale Pople patrolled the streets feeding the homeless, helping old people carry groceries, extinguishing a car fire. He wore a red, yellow and blue Spandex outfit with an SH emblem: "Super Hero." Now, Clearwater&...
Published: 09/21/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sunday, Sept. 23

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sunday, Sept. 23

Tampa Bay Lightning Fan Fest: The kicks off the hockey season with this free event including player autograph sessions, team scrimmages, selfie stations with players, food and beverage discounts, merchandise specials, hockey equipment sale and activi...
Published: 09/21/18
All the celebs arrested, married and sued this week from Plies to Bieber-Baldwin rumors

All the celebs arrested, married and sued this week from Plies to Bieber-Baldwin rumors

Here's a guide to some entertainment news you might've missed this week.ARRESTED: Rapper Plies was arrested at Tampa International Airport on Wednesday after authorities say a gun was found in his carry-on bag. The 42-year-old Wesley Chapel resident ...
Published: 09/21/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Saturday, Sept. 22

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Saturday, Sept. 22

Niall Horan: The One Direction singer-songwriter on his own tour brings along country’s Maren Morris. 7 p.m., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $29.50-$107. (813) 740-2446.MegaCon Tampa Bay: The multi-genre convention brin...
Published: 09/21/18
Review: Robert Olen Butler’s Paris in the Dark packed with action

Review: Robert Olen Butler’s Paris in the Dark packed with action

On a fall night in 1915, an American reporter sips Chartreuse at a sidewalk table as German Zeppelins patrol the perimeter of Paris. As he plans how to finagle his way to the front lines of World War I, a bomb explodes at another cafe nearby, and he ...
Published: 09/21/18