Monday, March 01, 2010

"World's Greatest Dad" (2009) - Movie Review

How many times people fall for the idea of liking someone than to like someone? The craze of media and the human philosophy of filling the emotional appetite has become more of a sale than an actuality. “World’s Greatest Dad” begins as a usual story about a loser middle aged dad into a dark comedy and commentary on the social pattern in behaviour and how it can be disturbing. This is one of the best overlooked film of 2009.

Lance Clayton (Robin Williams) is an English teacher offering a dried subject of interest, poetry. His son Kyle (Daryl Sabara) is an obnoxious teenage dirt bag. He hates everything and lives for nothing. His passions include disturbing liking for freaky porn. While teenage can be a tough age to see the things, Kyle’s destination seems firm which is to be the biggest burden to his dad and do nothing for the rest of his life. While the school Principal Anderson (Geoff Pierson) likes to expel him for his trouble and other kids bully him, Lance does not have a choice.

Lance is the boring middle aged English teacher in every high school. He is writing at home and his novels keep on getting rejected. His colleague Claire (Alexie Gilmore) likes and fools around with him but also eyes for a more eligible English teacher Mike (Henry Simmons). As expected nothing goes right for Lance and his son is someone no one can deal with, even his best friend Andrew (Evan Martin), calm and collected friend. Then something happens which you will never expect and that turns around the film into more than a routine loser uprising movie. This is not your regular comedy, not even your regular dark comedy.

Writer/Director Bobcat Goldthwait draws an arc which does not quite surely knows where it needs to be or goes about. The film is an exercise on continuously throwing us off the rails with the unusual events happening in Lance’s life. Never does at any point the film settles and provides a unique sense of perspective on things normally does not cross through.

Robin Williams chooses a screenplay wherein he mellows down and go in for a character role. At the second half of the film, his character makes a fortune of a dark misery and begins to take as long as it comes through. In other films this might be a formula routine of guilt trip and the meltdown in front of a national television show. Here it comes to the brink of that but ends in a massive honesty. Lance ends as a jerk but comes with a clean conscience.

A film which does not rely on the usual laughs and regular emotional subtle dramas, “World’s Greatest Dad” shows what people really are. It studies the emotional flow chart of each individual and sees what we are made of. The attraction of popularity, fame and money is subtle or the party who wants it tries to be subtle only to be obvious. Claire is a unique character in that subtle greediness and the status of playing these two guys depending on her mood. Nothing much is told about Claire and Mike, other than the fact that she has been using Mike too. Alexie Gilmore provides a character villain in this offbeat dramedy.

Goldthwait knows how the mass hysteria works and how people are swept by this idea of being that great flag bearer. It does not matter whether they knew the person or even respected when they were alive, all it matters is that they belong to that fanatic of a person in hoping for something to follow. This idea of being the sincere fan is a disease and a hindrance in any field one pursues.

Robin Williams comes as a dad with problems of a post mid life crisis. He cannot breakdown as it will be too cliched and too humiliating. Daryl Sabara as his intolerable son scares us with such a devious character. The son’s character is so skewed and misanthropic that we hope for no such son for any one we know. What I sat before the film was completely different from what I got. It is subtle, funny, profound, beautiful, dark and reflective of human condition in desperate situations.

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