"World's Greatest Dad," Goldthwait's latest, differs from "The Joy of Sex." as well as from his comedy-drama "Sleeping Dogs Lie,"as here Goldthwait isn't particularly interested in the actual transgression -- or its shock value. What he really latches onto with "Dad" is our selective memories when it comes to collective grief, a pretty timely topic for our post-Jacko world.
The film's "world's greatest dad" is failed novelist Lance (Robin Williams at his tamped-down best), a high school English teacher who, like every other adult in the movie, is a big phony. However, fakery might be better than the real thing, at least when it comes to Lance's ball-of-bile adolescent son Kyle (Daryl Sabara of "Spy Kids"), a teenager possessing a complete contempt for everything as well as a narrow, unimaginative range of interests (basically: porn and masturbation).
"There's no sugarcoating how difficult my son is," Lance wanly tells the school principal. He's not kidding. Outside of those mean girls tormenting Sissy Spacek in "Carrie," Kyle might be the most repellent teenager in movie history, and Goldthwait is unsparing in the way he depicts this creepy kid and the poison he spews at his well-meaning doormat of a dad. (Kyle's mother, understandably, long ago got out of Dodge.)
The movie takes an unexpected turn midway through, and it's here that Goldthwait focuses on the real subject at hand -- the human need for reinvention and revisionism. Faced with an unspeakable situation (and it really is unspeakable; to say more would spoil the movie), Lance does what he feels he must to make himself feel better. Only it doesn't, at least after a while.
For all of its cutting cynicism, "Dad" proves unexpectedly moving in its portrait of a middle-age man leaving childish things behind, as reports Chicago Tribune.
MPAA rating: R (for language, crude and sexual content, some drug use and disturbing images).
Running time: 1:39
Starring: Robin Williams (Lance); Alexie Gilmore (Claire); Daryl Sabara (Kyle); Geoff Pierson (Principal Anderson); Henry Simmons (Mike); Mitzi McCall (Bonnie)
A Magnolia Pictures release. Written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait.
Produced by Tim Perrell, Howard Gertler, Sean McKittrick and Richard Kelly.
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