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World's Greatest Dad
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Robin Williams stars as Lance Clayton, a man who has learned to settle. He dreamed of being a rich and famous writer, but has only managed to make it as an unpopular high school poetry teacher. His only son Kyle (Daryl Sabara) is an insufferable jackass who won't give his father the time of day. He is dating Claire (Alexie Gilmore), the school's adorable art teacher, but she doesn't want to get serious, or even acknowledge publicly that they are dating. Then, in the wake of a freak accident, Lance suffers the worst tragedy and greatest opportunity of his life. He is suddenly faced with the possibility of all the fame, fortune and popularity he ever dreamed of, if he can only live with the knowledge of how he got there.
HDNet: A Look at World's Greatest Dad
I Hope I Become a Ghost - Music Video by The Deadly Syndrome
Commentary with writer and director Bobcat Goldthwait
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Top customer reviews
This is one of those scripts that seems like it wants to come to life as an unwatchable, dark, independent comedy that the critics rave about. That's not what happened though. There's actually a lot of heart in this film, and I think it came from Williams. Also, it's interesting to note that Bobcat Goldthwait is the director. He's that quirky comedian from films like "One Crazy Summer," and I think his touch as not a career director helped this film enormously. Sometimes directors get in the way of the material and steal the spotlight, Goldthwait removes himself from the picture, and this is an admirable effort to have in the portfolio.
I was also impressed with the performance and portrayal of Kyle by Daryl Sabara (you might remember him as Juni from Spy Kids). In this film he plays Williams's unredeemable son, who accidentally kills himself while performing autoerotic asphyxiation. That might sound sad, but the kid is unbearable, and it's perhaps only after you watch the film that you realize how well written and acted the character of Kyle is. It would have been very difficult to create a believable reprehensible character that nevertheless is capable of retaining the focus of his father's love. They nailed it here, and the end result is heartbreaking and tragic...probably because you see so many kids who walk all over their parents just as Kyle walks all over Williams. A character conceived and portrayed like this is rare in modern film, and I think at least part of that is due to Goldthwait's position as an outsider.
Another interesting character is the on again, off again girlfriend played by Alexie Gilmore. At first you think she's just a mousy school teacher excited by a bit of attention, but you soon realize she's manipulative, shallow and evil (all with a squirrel like smile). This is another character that is a very good representation of people you find, unfortunately, in real life. It's surprising to have two such accurate portrayals of common people you encounter every day, who have, to my memory at least, never been major players in major film releases before.
Take note that this isn't exactly a comedy. I don't think "hilarious" belongs on the cover. But this film is thought provoking, well-acted, well-written, and it doesn't contain any major flaws. This is an interesting project for Williams to have picked. I'm glad he did.
In this role, Williams concocts the story of suicide to protect his son's honor - complete with a suicide note and a journal that gives dad a chance at fame. The frustrated and unpublished writer finally has an audience, TV appearances and publishers who want to cash in on the emotional outpouring. Plus, the girlfriend who was leaving him is suddenly coming back, wanting him more. Williams displays the tension welling up between the good things that are finally coming his way and the need to accept the truth about his son. The characters in the story attach themselves to the myth of the deceased teenager, a kid who everyone in school hated and ridiculed. The story captures the disingenuous side of the grief industry - ok, not really an industry but some are cashing in big time on the gut-wrenching side of grief.
I would not have bothered with this movie, I'm sure, if not for Robin Williams untimely and tragic death. It is a dark and disturbing story. It is not Robin Williams the comedian and nothing close to Mrs. Doubtfire. Still, I liked the movie. At the end, the need to embrace the truth wins out.