"World's Greatest Dad" DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review (2009)

12/16/2009 Posted by Admin

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

"World's Greatest Dad"

Directed by Bobcat Goldthwaite, written by Goldthwaite, 99 minutes, rated R.

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

Robin Williams is Lance Clayton, a teacher, failed writer and single father of one of the least-likable cretins to ever walk the Earth--Kyle (played by Daryl Sabara, known pretty much entirely for his lead role in the Spy Kids films--not anymore, at least not to me). Kyle is a 15-year-old loudmouth, he's a sexual deviant (at least in his mind), and generally, he's an anti-social miscreant.  Still, Lance loves him.  This is his son, and he truly does try to relate to him and he wants him to succeed.

This unhealthy and unsuccessful relationship makes up the first act of the film. It’s pretty dark stuff for the first half hour or so, but it’s terribly funny, and Williams and Sabara have incredible chemistry, and both give killer performances. I highly enjoyed the first part of the film.

That said, it takes a sharp turn when writer and director Bobcat Goldthwaite reveals what he really wants to say--Lance comes home from a date one night and finds Kyle has died by accident as a result of his penchant for auto-erotic asphyxiation. Lance cleans him up and makes it look like a suicide, even writing a deep and profound suicide note. The result is that everyone who hated or ignored Kyle at school (the same school where Lance works) suddenly falls in love with the Kyle showcased in the suicide note. Lance takes advantage of the opportunity and writes an entire journal under the guise of his son, and the fame and money Lance always has dreamed of starts rolling in.

The premise has potential to be a brilliant, harsh satire about deifying the dead and the thirst for fame.  There are moments when this potential nearly is realized, but the film is so bogged down by the absurdity of some of its characters and frequently over-the-top comedy, that what it wants to say either is lost in the process or is beaten like a dead horse.  Goldthwaite is too soft on his characters.

Thankfully, Williams carries the film a long way, and even when the rest of the movie approaches mediocrity, he always is a pleasure to watch. It's wonderful to see Williams at the top of both his comedic and dramatic game after the last few years of poor career decisions, and I'd say he deserves forgiveness for "Old Dogs" just for being willing to tackle dark material such as this. Sabara perfectly accomplishes the stark, unlikeable Kyle, and he’s absolutely hilarious, often stealing the show from Williams.

I have to wonder if this material could have been a black comedy masterpiece in the hands of someone else.  Todd Solondz, perhaps?

Grade: C+

View the trailer for "World's Great Dad" below.  Thoughts?

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