Why Him? is a rancid comedy

Don’t waste your time with this Meet The Parents rip-off

WHY HIM? (John Hamburg). 111 minutes. Opens December 23. See listing. Rating: N

Why Him? can’t figure out whether to be raunchy like a Seth Rogen joint or soft, gooey and family-friendly like a Ben Stiller pic. It ends up caught in the middle, another Meet The Parents with a lot of “fuck,” “shit” and “tittie” talk – oh, and Megan Mullally twerking.

Mullally plays the wife of Bryan Cranston’s Midwestern dad, who tries to yank his daughter (Zoey Deutch) away from Laird, James Franco’s Silicon Valley rich kid.

Franco ratchets up the eccentricities, playing his foul-mouthed tech wiz as both horndog and lovable puppy, mad genius and social dumb-ass, someone who’s completely oblivious yet somehow all-knowing.

Cranston, on the other hand, chafes, frowns and squirms like he’s swallowing lemons. That’s what his character is supposed to do when faced with future son-in-law Laird. Or maybe it was Cranston’s reaction when faced with this rancid material.

The script, written by director John Hamburg and Ian Helfer from a story by Hamburg, Helfer and Jonah Hill, feels like it’s been hacked, screwed and shuffled in rewrite hell. Its stabs at comedy are obvious, rooted in a disdain for the wired, open-collar Palo Alto types that Franco parodies the rigid, archaic, white-collar types that Cranston embodies and an audience who expected better from the actors who gave us Breaking Bad and Spring Breakers.

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