There are shades of ‘Rushmore’ here – remember Bill Murray’s grotesque ginger kids? – and the script plays on the same sense of bittersweet longing and middle-aged desperation. But writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait’s vision is far grimmer than Wes Anderson’s: a better comparison might be Woody Allen’s bitter and twisted early ’90s movies, particularly the jawdroppingly cynical and foulmouthed ‘Deconstructing Harry’.
With Lance, Goldthwait has handed Williams the role of a lifetime, and he responds with the boldest, most heartfelt turn of his career: when tragedy strikes and the movie shifts from darkly funny to outright bleak, his warmth is the only thing preventing the film from spiralling into a black hole of misanthropy. That it avoids cynicism to become a warped but euphoric tribute to human endurance merely confirms the film as the bravest, smartest comedy of the year.