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World’s Greatest Dad (2009) ***

August 15, 2009


written by: Bobcat Goldthwait 
produced by: Ted Hamm, Sean McKittrick & Richard Kelly
directed by: Bobcat Goldthwait
Rated R (for language, crude and sexual content, some drug use and disturbing images)
99 min.
U.S. release date: August 21, 2009
DVD & Blu-Ray release: December 8, 2009
Many critics are ruining this film by revealing far too much in their write-ups. It’s too bad they forget that it’s still possible to discuss a film without spoiling it. This is just another film where it helps to know next to nothing before viewing. Check out the trailer if you must and then see it. Yes, I’m saying see it but only if you can handle an honest and uncomfortable albeit funny take on some hard subjects and concepts. Director Bobcat Goldthwait examines themes like: honesty, difficulties of parenting, deplorable teens, celebrity and loneliness in this indie adult comedy.  
Robin Williams delivers one of his rare performances that remind us he still has more than Hollywood family schlock in him. He plays Lance Clayton, a high school poetry teacher (hold on, I know that sounds familiar) and writer who received countless rejection letters from publishers in the mail. He can’t figure out where he is in life or how the cute art instructor (Alexie Gilmore) is in an unpublicized relationship with him. He’s also a single father, who’s loathsome teenage son, Kyle (Daryl Sabara), hates him. He doesn’t just hate his father though, he also hates music and movies. The only thing he seems to like is porn. Sabara does an amazing job at giving one of the most deplorable screen teens ever. He even treats his only friend like crap. He’s awful. Lance knows this, he knows his son is a douche-bag (as he puts it) yet he loves him nonetheless. As Lance is faced with a devastating catastrophe, he also stumbles upon unexpected fame and popularity. How to deal with th truth of such acclaim is another thing entirely though. Williams has a challenging role and he does excellent work here.
Just when you think he’s playing the countless dads he’s played before, he has to deal with several emotional responses all at the same time. In the Q&A that followed the screening, Goldthwait mentioned that he had originally written it for Philip Seymour Hoffman. That would’ve been something entirely different. Good thing the role went to Williams. Goldthwait avoids any possible Hollywood convention whatsoever yet there was a yearning for him to push his themes even more here. Nevertheless, he balances some extremely uncomfortable and difficult situations with some emotionally heartfelt and genuinely funny scenes.
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