Friday, August 12, 2011

"31 Movies, 31 Days": #8 World's Greatest Dad

Movie: World's Greatest Dad (2009)
Budget: not published, but probably about $6-9 million

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Format: Netflix Streaming

World's Greatest Dad easily wins the award for World's Worst Ad Campaign. If you looked at the poster above, what would be your first impression? Mine, based on Robin Williams's awful track record of starring in miserable family-oriented films, would be that this was...a miserable family-oriented film. The font, the bathrobe, the generic title---all of these things suggest a movie we don't ever, EVER want to see. The only reason I even gave this movie a chance was because it somehow scored an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Reviews lavished high praise on World's Greatest Dad calling it dark, funny and deep. Really? A Robin Williams movie called World's Greatest Dad is dark? Why yes...yes it is. Very dark.

Dark comedies, especially unexpected ones, can often be a bit hard for me to process. I enjoy a good dark comedy, but sometimes it takes a second viewing before I begin to appreciate them and fully adjust to their comedic tone. It took me a good 25 minutes before I "got it," whatever "it" is. I'm still not sure, really. For this reason I expect I would enjoy World's Greatest Dad somewhat more on a repeat viewing than I did on this first go round. But then again, I truly detest Robin perhaps not. If anyone else had played the titular character, World's Greatest Dad could have been something special. Instead, we're left with an uneven film that only hints at its own potential.

Williams plays a high school teacher with a fairly moronic and unkind teenage boy with raging hormones. Williams is also a failed writer and going through somewhat of a mid-life crisis when an accident leads to the death of his son. To the film's credit, the death of his son is not played for laughs. It's a serious moment which spins the movie into unexpected, dark territory. I won't give too much of the plot away, but Williams uses the death of his son to shamelessly advance his own writing career, as well as to seduce his on-again off-again girlfriend into bed. Did I mention it's a comedy? Written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait (yes, THAT Bobcat Goldthwait), World's Greatest Dad is a bold and ambitious comedy...just one anchored by someone not funny, nuanced or complex enough to make it all work. Sam Rockwell might've won an Oscar in this role.

I can't exactly recommend World's Greatest Dad, but it definitely deserves a nod for being different and for daring to mine humor from places most movies won't touch. It also features Bruce Hornsby starring as Bruce Hornsby...and that's kind of awesome.

Kraig's Rating: 5/10

Movie #1: Skyline
Movie #2: Killers
Movie #3: The Iron Giant
Movie #4: The Adjustment Bureau
Movie #5: Rubber
Movie #6: The Fighter
Movie #7: The Winning Season


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