Saturday, September 19, 2009

World's Greatest Dad (2009)


Suffering a mid-life crisis, failed author, single father, and unpopular high school poetry teacher, Lance Clayton's (Robin Williams) life is suddenly changed after his life is struck by a great tragedy. Amidst this tragedy Clayton slowly begins to gain the fame he has always dreamed of, but at what cost?

When I heared Robin William and Writer/Director/Comedian Bobcat Goldthwait were teaming up for a dark mid-life crisis centered comedy I turned into a high school girl who just saw Zac Efron faster than you can say "high school musical 100." I was absolutely giddy, Robin Williams, possibly the greatest improv stand-up comedian of the last 30 years, and one of the most overlooked actors of our time. Bobcat Goldthwait, a definitive off the wall, over the top goofball, with a knack for the difficult art of yelling and being hilarious at the same time. So when I got the chance to see the film, you can imagine I did a 100 yard sprint that would make Usain Bolt go "holy crap he's fast... for a mildly obese guy (don't judge me!)."

...Then I watched the film. Dark comedy, yes, good comedy, eh. Simply put the movie just doesn't work. Your main character is a failed author, self consumed, who goes through step by step life changing events as if read straight from a guide book. His love interest (Alexie Gilmore) is a bit of a bitch, who dates him out of convenience, and early on is implied to have played the field. The son (Daryl Sabara) is a perverted, also self consumed ass, who never appreciates his father's attempts to get to know him (even if they are pretty bad). In fact the only really likable character in the film is The son's best friend, Andrew (newcomer Evan Martin), a lonely teen who doesn't make friends easily, has a drunk for a mother, and finds a father figure in Lance.

Don't get me wrong, the performances are spot on, but you have no reason to care about these characters. The good will towards Lance is quickly backlashed amidst his impending decisions, leading to one of only two possible outcomes (redemption or despair). Even then the movie has plenty of opportunity to redeem itself, but it never does. It never escapes generic, mediocrity. The jokes never become hilarious, the characters never really become intriguing, and ultimately the whole even just feels to forced, without enough raw development. Lots of the love for the film has called it feeling genuine, and real... I never once felt that way.

The movie struggles with feelings of detachment from its audience, utilizing some great moments that bring you in, followed by moments that shove you out. It's not all bad though, Robin Williams delivers a great performance, Goldthwait's direction gives his script's better moments great life, but there's just not enough there to sustain your undivided interest for the entire hour and a half, something I find very unfortunate.

Despite their best efforts, Williams and Goldthwait just can't get enough coherent cinema into the film to make it worth your time and money, but I still hope they try again.

4 better thoughts:

DEZMOND said...

Univarn, what did you think of Robin's roles in ONE HOUR PHOTO and INSOMNIA, which he used few years ago to make a new turn in his career?

Univarn said...

I liked it, I think Good Will Hunting, which he won his oscar for, sort of marked a few year haitus from comedy for him. I can't say I liked One Hour Photo but he was great in it, and Insomnia was an all around solid remake.

Like I said, I think when people remember great actors they'll not to wisely overlook Robin Williams.

Lemmy Caution said...

Insominia was one of the VERY few remakes of a foreign film that did work. The original is still a bit edgier and superior, but as you's a solid remake.

I was looking forward to World's Greatest Dad.....even with your less than stellar review, it still sounds worth a look I suppose.

DEZMOND said...

I liked him in ONE HOUR PHOTO. It was a role made for him, and he did it great playing a slightly weird and crazy sociopath who actually hides good moral values in his heart. The twist at the end of that movie is marvelous.

He was, also, the only thing I liked in INSOMNIA.

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