World's Greatest Dad Directed by: Bobcat Goldthwait Cast: Robin Williams, Alexie Gilmore, Daryl Sabara Running Time: 1 hr 39 mins Rating: R Release Date: September 4, 2009
Plot: Robin Williams stars as Lance Clayton, a writer who has learned to settle into his role as a poetry teacher. His teenage son is a handful in more ways than one. After a freak accidentm, Lance has the chance to re-define himself and perhaps get everything he wants out of life.
Who’s It For? I know people would love to call this a dark comedy, but it's a dark drama. Or maybe a slightly humorous dark drama. If you're a fan of Bobcat Goldthwait's directing, I won't stand in your way. And if you're desperate to see Williams act, this will most likely give you more range than his upcoming Old Dogs with John Travolta.
I'm not going to talk about the twist that happens 40 minutes into the film. You can probably find other critics who will try and kill the twist for you, but not me. So I apologize if there are moments of vagueness in this film review.
So this is what could happen in an alternative universe to Professor Keating from Dead Poets Society. Kyle (Sabara) is annoyingly fantastic as Lance's son. He's awful, and you will hate him. The movie never explains why Lance can't get through to his son. We know he's settled as a teacher, but it doesn't seem he's mailed it in as a father. So, I guess Klye is just evil and we'll leave it at that.
It's amazing for a film to dare to wait for it's plot twist until the 40-minute mark, but that's what The World's Greatest Dad does. It's a very emotional scene, that should lead to tons of conversations after the film. Unfortunately, what follows just isn't nearly as good.
The people around Lance are simply characters, there is no realism with their actions. There would be absolutely nothing wrong with that, accept for the fact that it's not funny. Claire (Gilmore) is over-the-top fake as the potential girlfriend. I'm sure the intention is for her to be so shallow, it becomes funny, but it never makes the leap to great dark comedy ground. The same can be said for Mike (Henry Simmons), Lance's adversary for Claire's attention. Whether it's the basketball game, or lunch room chats ... it's just not believable.
You feel the tension between Lance and Kyle, even if it's not overly explained, but you don't feel anything else. So then you're left with a mild curiosity on where this will go. Goldthwait is coming along as a director though, and creating a conversation is somehow becoming a rare treat in movies.
Lance Clayton's final moment on screen is meant to be a freeing of ... Lies? Himself? A return to himself? Freedom? If you're going to jump off a diving board naked to "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie, I need you to have a defined reason. That's just me. I'm not saying I need every movie moment over-explained, but I couldn't tell exactly how Lance evolved, and I needed that connection.
Final Score: 6/10