World’s Greatest Dad | Comedy/Drama | rated R (A,L,N) | starring Robin Williams, Daryl Sabara, Geoff Pierson | written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait | 1:39 mins
Typically this is where I would put a summary of the movie, but World’s Greatest Dad is one of those movies that is best seen completely cold. Rare for a drama, but Dad is a rare drama. Suffice to say it involves Lance (Robin Williams) a single dad, teacher and failed writer who struggles to get along with his outwardly perverted, loner of a teenage son Kyle (Daryl Sabara, hilariously over-the-top). When a tragedy strikes their little family Lance’s attempts to cover up any potential embarassment inadvertantly thrusts him in the spotlight of fame and popularity.
Dad divides in two stark parts before and after the tragedy strikes. The first half is a quirkier, funnier, more entertaining version of a Steve Conrad or Alexander Payne movie where one average loser is cruely treated like garbage by life and those around him who transparently seek to only associate with beauty and success (The Weather Man, Sideways and so on). The 2nd half a satirical take on the first half. A movie about high schoolers and adults who behave like them. Fads, trends and group think. A drama with a story fairly common in independent films but creatively injected with a cerebral visual touch or perfect musical cue at every turn by writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait. It’s a terrific debut film by this most unlikely whiz of the language of film.
It’s a welcome return by the Dramatic Robin Williams of Good Will Hunting and One Hour Photo. This is my favorite Robin Williams and this movie is really one of his finest hours. He’s note-perfect here, sliding effortlessly into the movie’s changing tones and selling them each time. He’s heartbreaking one minute when he needs to be and hiliarious the next when he needs to be. And yet he almost gets upstaged by Sabara, who goes from Spy Kids to this agressively vulgar and perfectly hateful teenager. Sabara just about carries the first half of the movie.
Between the sad sack single guy, the unlikely may-december romantic relationship, the domestic tragedy and the commentary about being alone, World Greatest Dad hits on many independent film staples giving them a fresh and original twist at the same time. And, as mentioned, Goldthwait creatively gives the film a perfectly quirky darkly comic visual touch few like it have. Lance’s story is a man whose ego and desire to belong are in conflict, a struggle exaserbated by the speed of the information age. The movie isn’t overly ambitious, but spirals toward a resolution that is as simple as it is satisfying as it is ultimately a bit strange. Deconstructing the character instead of putting convoluted plot devices in his way. Those that though Williams was great in Photo but the movie lacked will be more satisfied with Dad. Finally, here’s a movie that really backs up his talent. I’m curious to see what else Goldthwait may have up his sleeve.