Wednesday, August 11, 2010

DVD Review: World's Greatest Dad (2009)


“Lance Clayton Is About To Get Everything He Deserves”

DIRECTOR: Bobcat Goldthwait
CAST: Robin Williams, Daryl Sabara, Alexie Gilmore, Henry Simmons

ANECDOTAL: Robin Williams, the man is a comedic genius, his stand-up still kills me, however, it is easy to forget that he once starred in amazing films, for much like Eddie Murphy; I do not believe that he’s ever turned a role down. If you only recall Williams for eye-rolling comedies like RV (2006) and FLUBBER (1997), treat yourself to his darker, more dramatic roles, fine examples being THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP (1982). THE BEST OF TIMES (1986), DEAD POET SOCIETY (1989), THE FISHER KING (1991), and the chilling ONE HOUR PHOTO (2002).

SYNOPSIS: Robins Williams portrays school teacher Lance Clayton, a single father and aspiring writer. He loves his douche-nozzle son Kyle (Daryl Sabara (SPY KIDS) despite the fact that his son is a cold, sexist loser, until one day Kyle dies while jerkin’ it. Rather than suffer the indignity of the nature of his son’s death he stages a suicide, types a note, and then must endure the fallout stemming from his actions.

“Come on now, Kyle, you must be passionate about something.” – Lance Clayton/Robin Williams

“You wanna know what I like? I like looking at vaginas.” - Kyle Clayton/Daryl Sabara

THE FILM: Robin Williams’ Lance wants a relationship with his teenage son, Kyle, a chronic masturbator slash loser of a child whom shows little regard for his father’s need for a meaningful relationship. He’s prone to misogynist/sexist statements like “that pussy’s not gonna eat itself”, his only friend, Andrew (Evan Martin), whom he treats like shit, but there’s an awkward trusting relationship there that filters through, somehow. It’s pretty obvious that Andrew is being neglected to some degree at home and Kyle is sensitive to this on some level. Kyles father is an aspiring, unpublished writer, he’s teaches poetry at Kyle’s school, were he’s in a secretive relationship with a younger, fellow educator Claire (Alexie Gilmore), whom Kyle describes as a TILF, “a teacher I’d like to fuck”. Kyle is portrayed quite well by Daryl Sabra, whom you may recall as “Juni” from the SPY KIDS franchise. Williams gives an amazing performance as his befuddled and frustrated father, probably his best work to date. After a night out Lance returns home to find that Kyle has accidentally died while performing autoerotic asphyxiation. Having loved his son despite his shortcomings he stages a suicide in an effort to provide a more dignified death. He types a suicide note to bolster the scenario. When the note is published in the school paper a post-death Cult of Kyle springs fort. In a plotline not dissimilar from the late-80’s classic HEATHERS (1989), the faculty and student body regard Kyle, a person universally reviled before his death, as a deep, and misunderstood individual. For the 1st time Lance is receiving praise for his writing under the guise of his son’s suicide note, craving more recognition, and perhaps wanting to rewrite his sons tarnished image, he pens a fictional diary in his departed son’s name, it becomes a sensation. Williams character comes across sympathetically, and the fraud perpetrated feels more a way of dealing with loss than the need to receive recognition for his own writings, but it’s borderline, and the line is crossed several times throughout as he strives to fulfill his own needs. The comedy is dark and sardonic, bitterly humorous and at times poignantly touching. Many kudos to director Bobcat Glodthwait whom has directed several other films; SHAKES THE CLOWN (1991), SLEEPING DOGS LIE (2006), and WINDY CITY HEAT (2003) – none of which I’ve seen, but are on my shortlist of films to see, now. The finale is satisfying, though not as dark as one would assume, I think.

“You guys didn't like Kyle. That's okay. I didn't either. I loved him. He was my son. But he was also a douchebag.” – Lance Clayton/Robin Williams

DVD: WORLD’S GREATEST DAD is released by Magnolia Pictures. The DVD sports a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation, 5.1 surround audio. Special features include a commentary from writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait, Behind the Scenes featurette, Outtakes & Deleted Scenes, HDNET: A Look at World’s Greatest Dad, and a Deadly Syndrome music video. Pretty well-stocked package, indeed.

VERDICT: I highly recommend WORLD’S GREATEST DAD, what an introduction to the writer/director prowess of Bobcat Goldthwait, whom you probably recall as Cadet Zed from the POLICE ACADEMY films, who woulda thunkit? You also get a terrific dramatic performance from Robin Williams. This is savage, darkly funny comedy along the lines of Alexander Payne’s ABOUT SCHMIDT (2002) or Todd Solondz’s STORYTELLING (2001), pretty amazing stuff. ****1/2 (4.5 out of 5 stars)