Why Him?

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Why Him?
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Hamburg
Screenplay by
  • John Hamburg
  • Ian Helfer
Story by
Produced by
CinematographyKris Kachikis
Edited by
  • William Kerr
  • Dean Zimmerman
Music byTheodore Shapiro
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • December 17, 2016 (2016-12-17) (Los Angeles)
  • December 23, 2016 (2016-12-23) (United States)
Running time
111 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$38–52 million[2][3]
Box office$118.1 million[2]

Why Him? is a 2016 American romantic buddy comedy film written and directed by John Hamburg, co-written by Ian Helfer, and starring James Franco and Bryan Cranston with Zoey Deutch, Megan Mullally, Griffin Gluck and Keegan-Michael Key in supporting roles. The film follows a father who tries to stop his daughter's immature tech-millionaire boyfriend from asking her to marry him.

The film premiered in Los Angeles on December 17, 2016, was released by 20th Century Fox in the United States on December 23, 2016. It received generally negative reviews from critics, but was a financial success, grossing $118 million worldwide on a $52 million dollar budget.


Stanford student Stephanie Fleming invites her boyfriend Laird Mayhew over to "Netflix and chill". Meanwhile, back home in Grand Rapids, Stephanie's dad Ned is celebrating his 55th birthday with friends and family at an Applebee's restaurant. During a slideshow presentation in his honor, Stephanie drops in via webcam to congratulate him, when suddenly her boyfriend walks in on her and flashes the camera.

Stephanie drives her family – parents Ned and Barb and younger brother Scotty  – to Laird's villa to meet him. She explains to Ned that Laird is the CEO of a video game company, which has made him extremely wealthy. Laird gives the family a tour of his house, complete with curse words and inappropriate comments about Barb. He then reveals a large tattoo of the Flemings' Christmas card on his back, complete with "Happy Holidays" written underneath. In the living room is a tank with a moose filled completely with its urine. The basement has a bowling alley that Laird built with a mural of Ned, posed in a "crotch-chop" position.

Ned talks to Stephanie about Laird's behavior and she asks him to give him a chance. Later, Laird invites Ned to go for a walk in the woods outside his house and asks Ned for his blessing to propose to Stephanie to marry him. Ned is quick to say no, which completely blindsides Laird, who had been confident that Ned would say yes. Laird promises to win him over.

As the family gathers in Laird's living room for a Christmas party, Laird reveals that he bought Ned's struggling printing company as a gift to remove all his debts. Instead of expressing gratitude, Ned punches Laird in the face and they begin to fight, which culminates in Laird falling into the moose tank, which subsequently breaks and leaves Scotty briefly trapped under the moose. Stephanie and Barb are both angry at the partner's behavior, and the family leaves Laird's home.

On Christmas Day, the Flemings are celebrating without Stephanie. They are surprised when Laird's helicopter arrives with Stephanie. She is still mad at both Ned and Laird for their behavior and refuses to talk to either of them. Ned and Laird talk and Laird gets Ned's blessing to propose to Stephanie. However, Stephanie declines the proposal saying she is not ready to get married, but she wants them to continue dating.

Later during the party, Ned and Scotty approach Laird for a new business idea, since they are all part of the same company now. Scotty says they should sell the same toilets Laird has in his home since they would be very profitable. Laird likes the idea and agrees. The couples then dance together as music plays, with Ned referring to Laird as "son".

Scotty, Ned, and Laird eventually turn the printing company into a toilet factory and become a profitable company. Stephanie uses the Fleming-Mayhew conglomerate to help underdeveloped countries with their sewage projects. Finally, Laird has what he always wanted, to be part of a family.


  • James Franco as Laird Mayhew, an eccentric, foul-mouthed CEO of a video game company and Stephanie's boyfriend
  • Bryan Cranston as Ned Fleming, Stephanie's conservative father and Barb's husband
  • Zoey Deutch as Stephanie Fleming, Laird's girlfriend, Ned and Barb's daughter, and Scotty's older sister
  • Megan Mullally as Barb Fleming, Ned's wife and Stephanie's mother
  • Cedric the Entertainer as Lou Dunne, Patty's husband and Ned's best friend and business partner
  • Griffin Gluck as Scotty Fleming, Stephanie's 15-year-old younger brother and Ned and Barb's son
  • Keegan-Michael Key as Gustav, Laird's best friend, butler, assistant and trainer, who also manages his estate
  • Tangie Ambrose as Patty Dunne, Lou's wife
  • Zack Pearlman as Kevin Dingle, Ned's I.T. guy
  • Kaley Cuoco as the voice of Justine, Laird's in-home artificial intelligence
  • Casey Wilson as Missy Pederman, Blaine's sister and the owner of an online invitation company called StampFree Invites
  • Andrew Rannells as Blaine Pederman, Missy's brother and business partner
  • Adam DeVine as Tyson Modell, the creator of the wildly popular Ghostchat app
  • Steve Bannos as Tree Lot Owner Burt
  • Mary Pat Gleason as Joyce
  • Bob Stephenson as Jerry in Graphics

There are cameos by technology, gaming, and entertainment figures, including Burnie Burns, Steve Aoki, Richard Blais, Elon Musk, Toby Turner, and Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS.


On November 18, 2014, it was announced that John Hamburg and Ian Helfer were co-writing a comedy film, Why Him?, for 20th Century Fox.[4] On February 27, 2015, James Franco was in talks to star in the film, playing a young billionaire.[5] Shawn Levy's 21 Laps Entertainment and Ben Stiller's Red Hour Productions were set to produce the film, about a Midwestern father who travels with his family to visit his daughter at college, and finds himself disliking her new billionaire boyfriend.[5] On August 25, 2015, Bryan Cranston was set to star in the film, playing the father.[6] In August 2015, the film was selected by the California Film Commission to receive $5.4 million in tax credits.[7]

On December 8, 2015, Zoey Deutch was cast in the film's female lead role, as Cranston's character's daughter and the billionaire's girlfriend. Bryce Dallas Howard, Jordana Brewster and Mélanie Laurent were also considered.[8] On January 12, 2016, Griffin Gluck was added to the cast of the film to play Scotty Fleming, the son of Cranston's character.[9] On January 13, 2016, Megan Mullally joined the film to play Barb Fleming, the wife of Ned (Cranston).[10] On January 19, 2016, Keegan-Michael Key was cast as the billionaire's European-hailing estate manager,[11] and following him, Zack Pearlman also signed on for a role in the film.[12] Musician Steve Aoki also appeared in the film.[13]

Principal photography on the film began in mid-February 2016 in Los Angeles.[14][15][13]


Why Him? was released in the United States on December 23, 2016, by 20th Century Fox. It was originally planned for a November 11, 2016 release date.[16][17]

The film was released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital copy on March 28, 2017.[18]

Box office[edit]

Why Him? grossed $60.3 million in the United States and Canada and $57.8 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $118.1 million, against a production budget of $52 million.[2][3]

Why Him? was expected to gross $10–14 million from 2,917 theaters over its first four days of release.[19][20] It grossed $3.9 million on its first day and $11 million during its opening weekend (a four-day total of $15.5 million), finishing 4th at the box office.[21]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, Why Him? has an approval rating of 39% based on 156 reviews, with an average rating of 5/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Solidly cast but overall misconceived, Why Him? offers the odd chuckle, but ultimately adds disappointingly little to its tired father-vs.-fiancé formula."[22] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 39 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[23] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[21]


French political scientist Thibault Muzergues remarks in his book The Great Class Shift that the film captures the tension created by the contrast in values between the Protestant work ethic of the suburban middle class, as represented by Ned, and the looser approach of Laird and other members of the creative class, a real sociopolitical phenomenon.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "WHY HIM? (15)". British Board of Film Classification. December 7, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Why Him?". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  3. ^ a b McDonald, Adrian (May 2017). "2016 Feature Film Study" (PDF). FilmLA. Retrieved August 24, 2018.
  4. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (November 18, 2014). "John Hamburg Launches Production Company, Inks Overall Deal With 20th TV". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  5. ^ a b McNary, Dave (February 27, 2015). "James Franco in Talks for Comedy 'Why Him?' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  6. ^ Hipes, Patrick (August 25, 2015). "Bryan Cranston To Star With James Franco In 'Why Him'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  7. ^ McNary, Dave (August 18, 2015). "California Film Tax Credits Go to 'Conjuring 2,' 'Chicken Soup for the Soul'". Variety. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  8. ^ Kit, Borys (December 8, 2015). "Zoey Deutch Joins Bryan Cranston, James Franco in Comedy 'Why Him?'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  9. ^ Pedersen, Erik (January 12, 2016). "Griffin Gluck Joins Bryan Cranston-James Franco Pic 'Why Him'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  10. ^ Pedersen, Erik (January 13, 2016). "Megan Mullally Joins Bryan Cranston & James Franco In 'Why Him'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  11. ^ Kit, Borys (January 19, 2016). "Keegan-Michael Key Joins Bryan Cranston, James Franco in 'Why Him?'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  12. ^ Ford, Rebecca (February 5, 2016). "Zack Pearlman Joins James Franco Comedy 'Why Him?' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  13. ^ a b Aoki, Steve [@steveaoki] (February 29, 2016). "On set for Why Him? w/ director @johnhamburg. This movie is gonna be so 😂😂😂😂" (Tweet). Retrieved March 14, 2016 – via Twitter.
  14. ^ Hipes, Patrick (March 9, 2016). "Zoey Deutch Books Key Role In 'Rebel In The Rye'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  15. ^ Rich King (January 13, 2016). "Silicon Valley Types to work Feb in LA for "Why Him"". Rich King Casting. Archived from the original on April 14, 2016. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  16. ^ McNary, Dave (February 28, 2016). "Ridley Scott's 'Alien: Covenant' Moved Up to Summer 2017". Variety. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  17. ^ Lewis, Hilary (October 15, 2016). "It's Official: Fox's 'Hidden Figures' NASA Film to Get Oscar-Qualifying Limited Release". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 15, 2016.
  18. ^ "Why Him? DVD Release Date March 28, 2017." DVDs Release Dates. N.p., 23 Dec. 2016. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.
  19. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 13, 2016). "Will 'Rogue One' Vanquish The Christmas B.O. Competition?". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 24, 2018.
  20. ^ McClintock, Pamela (December 20, 2016). "Christmas Box-Office Crush: 'Sing,' 'Passengers,' 'Assassin's Creed' to Battle 'Rogue One'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  21. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony; Busch, Anita (December 27, 2016). "With 'Fences,' 'La La Land' Enter Top 10 As 'Rogue One' & 'Sing' Rule Holiday – Monday AM Update". Deadline Hollywood.
  22. ^ "Why Him? (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021. Edit this at Wikidata
  23. ^ "Why Him? Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  24. ^ Muzergues, Thibault (2020). The Great Class Shift: How New Social Structures Are Redefining Western Politics. London: Routledge. p. 32. ISBN 9780367342104. Retrieved May 31, 2022.

External links[edit]