Casa de Mi Padre & Puerto Vallarta Both Embody American Perceptions of Mexico"/>
The Movie: Casa de Mi Padre at Pacific Place i n>"/>
The Dinner: An enormous beef burrito at Puerto Vallarta in West Seattle's Alaska Junction.
The Screenplate: Casa de Mi Padre is easily the most self-indulgent piece of cinema Will Ferrell has ever been involved in--and that's saying something, as Ferrell enjoys a ridiculous amount of creative control for films he shares a production credit on. Filmed entirely in Spanish with English subtitles, Casa de Mi Padre seems destined for cult status. It's also destined to severely frustrate all but the most ardent Ferrellphiles.
Ferrell is cast with a straight face as Armando Alvarez, the dimmer of two sons born to a Mexican ranch owner. The brighter (Diego Luna) is a drug runner whose fiancee (the comely Genesis Rodriguez) has more of a connection with Ferrell than the hermano to whom she's been promised. The film is a feature-length spoof on telenovelas and Mexican westerns. It rarely results in big laughs, but as a send-up of cultural stereotypes, it's outrageously sharp. In that sense, it's Talladega Nights, only with caballoss and cocaine instead of stock cars and bold flavors.
If this film yields a breakout star, it's likely to be Rodriguez, who bears a resemblance to "Hot Marta" from Arrested Development, another character over whom hermanos (Gob and Michel Bluth) dueled. Similar to how only the most devoted Ferrell fans will likely enjoy Case de Mi Padre, only the most dogged Arrested Development loyalists noticed--and lamented--the fact that the character of Marta was played by a different actress beginning in Season 2. The first Marta was insanely cute, while the second was relatively homely. Homely Marta was a recent contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice, which seems about right.
Puerto Vallarta, a kitschily-appointed Alaska Junction restaurant where kids under 10 eat for a dime, is infinitely more accessible than Case de Mi Padre (or Arrested Development, for that matter) could ever hope to be. But like Ferrell's film, it offers an all-American interpretation of Mexico. Its football-sized beef burritos are not designed for a rancher-on-the-go like Alvarez, but rather for gringos who treat every meal as though it's their last. And if they order that burrito with any frequency, they'll realize such a fate sooner than they might prefer.