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

Why Him?
Why Him.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Hamburg
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • John Hamburg
  • Ian Helfer
Story by
  • Jonah Hill
  • John Hamburg
  • Ian Helfer
Music by Theodore Shapiro
Cinematography Kris Kachikis
Edited by William Kerr
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • December 17, 2016 (2016-12-17) (Los Angeles)
  • December 23, 2016 (2016-12-23) (United States)
Running time
111 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $52 million[2]
Box office $118 million[3]

Why Him? premiered in Los Angeles on December 17, 2016, was released by 20th Century Fox in the United States on December 23, 2016 and grossed $118 million worldwide.



Stanford student Stephanie Fleming invites her boyfriend Laird Mayhew over to "Netflix and chill". Shortly after, 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, when suddenly her boyfriend walks in on her and flashes the camera.

Ned Fleming is the CEO of a printing company that has been having a rough year. The company is in debt and is unable to close deals as their customers are increasingly having their printing done in China or switching to online ads. Ned talks to his coworker Lou Dunne about the incident from the previous night. Ned tells Lou that Stephanie wants the rest of the family to meet Laird, even though Stephanie never even mentioned having a boyfriend up until that night.

Stephanie drives her family (her parents and her fifteen year old brother Scotty) to Laird's house, which is surprisingly huge. She then explains to Ned that Laird is the CEO of a video game company, which has made him extremely wealthy. They arrive at the house, and Laird greets the family as "the motherfucking Flemings!" They also meet Laird's right-hand man Gustav, who also acts as the voice of reason to Laird. Laird gives the family a tour of his house, complete with curse words and overly complimenting Barb's looks in front of Ned. He even shows off a back tattoo that he got of the Flemings' Christmas card, with "Happy Holidays" written on the bottom. 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, complete with a "crotch-chop" pose of his.

Ned talks to Stephanie about Laird's behavior, which she knew he would bring up. She asks Ned to give him a chance. During dinner, Laird starts talking about times that he and Stephanie have had sex, in full and graphic details. She later tells him that he is making her parents uncomfortable, so Laird vows to be better for her. Laird apologizes to Ned and Barb for making them uncomfortable. He then introduces them to his Siri-like voice system called Justine (voiced by Kaley Cuoco), who is there to accommodate Laird and his guests.

Later, Laird invites Ned to go out for a walk in the woods outside his house. He brings Ned to a teepee and then explains that he brought Ned there so that he could ask Ned for his blessing to propose to Stephanie. Ned is quick to say no, which completely blindsides Laird since he was confident Ned would say yes. Laird promises to win him over so that he can get his blessing, but he also asks to keep it a secret from everyone, including Barb and Scotty.

Laird throws a party for the Flemings. He invites some of his fellow entrepreneur buddies to the party. Ned meets a pair of siblings that run a company that is something of a rival to Ned's company. Ned makes a comment that he feels "bukkake" after hearing Laird use it in the sense that he is feeling overwhelmed, only to be told by everybody else that it literally means "jizz in your face."

Laird bonds with Scotty as the boy tries out Laird's new video games and gives him feedback, while also talking business with him, since Ned has been grooming Scotty to take over his business. Meanwhile, Barb encounters someone with a vape pen, then gets really high. She later tries to get Ned to come onto her, but he refuses.

Ned contacts his coworker Kevin Dingle to dig up some dirt on Laird. Dingle tries to hack into Laird's personal content, only for him to get hacked back by an anti-hacking program that Laird installed, causing all of Dingle's power to crash. He tells Ned to try and break into Laird's personal computer by trying to figure out his password. Dingle assumes it must be something dirty, but Ned is surprised when he finds the only piece of paper in the house with a password on it that says "StephaniesDude". Before Ned is able to get enough information, Laird and Stephanie both walk into his office and talk about how Laird has been acting. He apologizes and tries to get her to have sex. Instead, she lets him perform oral sex on her, which Ned is forced to listen to as he hides under Laird's desk.

The family gathers in Laird's living room for a Christmas party. Ned takes the chance to tell everyone that Laird is in debt since his company hasn't been doing so well; however, it turns out it is just a cover. Laird then reveals that he bought Ned's company as a gift to remove all his debts. Instead of expressing gratitude, Ned punches Laird in the face. The two start fighting childishly, and Laird goes up to the top of the moose tank. The glass beneath his feet breaks and he falls in. Scotty runs over to break Laird out, but the tank breaks completely and sends moose urine all over the place. The moose itself is on top of Scotty, and its testicles are on his face. Stephanie and Barb are both angry at the men's behavior, and the family leaves Laird's home.

Upon returning home, Ned finds that all of his employees are celebrating Laird's purchase of the company since their jobs are now safe. They get him an iPad as a gift, which has a wallpaper of him and Laird from the bowling alley, making Ned feel guilty.

It's Christmas Day, and the Flemings are celebrating without Stephanie. They are surprised when Laird's helicopter comes down into the middle of the street, since he wanted to surprise Stephanie and bring her home for Christmas. She is still mad at both Ned and Laird for their behavior around her, and she refuses to talk to either of them and then goes inside the house. Ned and Laird have a talk, since Laird still wants to propose but won't do so until he officially gets Ned's blessing. Laird also reveals that he got doves and another special surprise as part of the proposal, but Ned says that Stephanie doesn't like the flashy stuff and that she loves Laird for who he is. He finally gives Laird his blessing. Ned goes inside to talk to Stephanie and get her to talk to Laird. Through a miscommunication, Laird tries to call off the surprises, but Gustav thinks it's still a go. He sets the doves free and also brings out Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS to come out and play "I Was Made for Lovin' You". Laird tells the two to go inside the Fleming house while he proposes.

Moments later, Laird and Stephanie go back inside the house. Laird tells Ned that Stephanie declined the proposal because she's just not ready to get married, but she wants to continue dating Laird.

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".

At the end credits scene, Scotty, Ned, and Laird turned the printing company into a toilet factory and became a huge success. Stephanie linked the Fleming-Mayhew company with the new foundation and helped third-world countries with their sewage projects. Finally, Laird got what he always wanted, to be part of a family.


  • James Franco as Laird Mayhew, Stephanie's older boyfriend
  • Bryan Cranston as Ned Fleming, Stephanie's 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
  • Griffin Gluck as Scotty Fleming, Stephanie's 15-year old younger brother and Ned and Barb's son
  • Kaley Cuoco as the voice of Justine, Laird's in-home artificial intelligence
  • Keegan-Michael Key as Gustav, Laird’s best friend, butler, calmer assistant and trainer, the billionaire's European-hailing estate manager
  • Cedric the Entertainer as Lou Dunne, Ned’s best friend and business partner
  • Zack Pearlman as Kevin Dingle, Ned’s I.T. guy
  • Jee Young Han as Marnie Dingle, Kevin’s wife
  • Jacob Kemp as Randy the Intern
  • Grace Ly Ngo Hazelett and Sadie Kate Ngo Hazelett as Vanessa Dingle, Kevin’s daughter
  • Casey Wilson as Missy Pederman, the first creator of an online invitation company called StampFree Invites.
  • Andrew Rannells as Blaine Pederman, the second creator of an online invitation company called StampFree Invites.
  • Adam DeVine as Tyson Modell, the creator of the wildly popular Ghostchat app.
  • Tangie Ambrose as Patty Dunne, Lou’s wife and Barb’s friend
  • Steve Bannos as Tree Lot Owner Burt

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


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 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 4K UHD on March 28, 2017.[18]

Box officeEdit

Why Him? grossed $60.3 million in the United States and Canada and $57.7 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $118 million, against a production budget of $52 million.[3][19]

Why Him? was expected to gross $10–14 million from 2,917 theaters over its first four days of release.[20][21] 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.[22]

Critical responseEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, Why Him? has an approval rating of 40% based on 130 reviews, with an average rating of 4.9/10. The site'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."[23] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 39 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[24] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[25]


  1. ^ "Why Him? (15)". British Board of Film Classification. December 7, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2016. 
  2. ^ FilmL.A. (May 2017). "2016 Feature Film Study" (PDF). FilmL.A. Feature Film Study. 
  3. ^ a b "Why Him? (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 28, 2017. 
  4. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (November 18, 2014). "John Hamburg Launches Production Company, Inks Overall Deal With 20th TV". 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’". Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  7. ^ McNary, Dave (August 18, 2015). "California Film Tax Credits Go to ‘Conjuring 2,’ ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’". 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'". Retrieved January 14, 2016. 
  10. ^ Pedersen, Erik (January 13, 2016). "Megan Mullally Joins Bryan Cranston & James Franco In 'Why Him'". 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?'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 14, 2016. 
  13. ^ a b "Steve Aoki on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved March 14, 2016. 
  14. ^ Hipes, Patrick (March 9, 2016). "Zoey Deutch Books Key Role In ‘Rebel In The Rye’". Deadline. Retrieved March 14, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Silicon Valley Types to work Feb in LA for “Why Him”". 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. ^ FilmL.A. (May 2017). "2016 Feature Film Study" (PDF). FilmL.A. Feature Film Study. 
  20. ^ "Will ‘Rogue One’ Vanquish The Christmas B.O. Competition?". 
  21. ^ McClintock, Pamela. "Christmas Box-Office Crush: 'Sing,' 'Passengers,' 'Assassin's Creed' to Battle 'Rogue One'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 20, 2016. 
  22. ^ "With ‘Fences,’ ‘La La Land’ Enter Top 10 As ‘Rogue One’ & ‘Sing’ Rule Holiday – Monday AM Update". 
  23. ^ "Why Him? (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 9, 2017. 
  24. ^ "Why Him? (2016)". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 12, 2017. 
  25. ^ "CinemaScore". 

External linksEdit