World's Greatest Dad (15)
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Time Out says
Tue Sep 21 2010It’s fair to say no one was expecting this. Directed by the guy who played Zed in the ‘Police Academy’ movies and starring that rubber-faced bastion of family-friendly Hollywood mush known as Robin Williams (pictured below), on the surface ‘World’s Greatest Dad’ reeks of direct-to-DVD disaster. Williams plays Lance Clayton, unpublished author, uninspiring teacher and unhappy father to the most obnoxious teenage brat on the planet. Kyle (Daryl Sabara, unrecognisable from his chubby-cheeked ‘Spy Kids’ days) is a grasping, hate-fuelled loser: when long-suffering Lance, possessed by compassion, quizzes his son on his idea of fun, Kyle replies, ‘I like looking at vaginas. All day, every day.’
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.
Author: Tom Huddleston