Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Underrated movie to rent: World's Greatest Dad

Okay, 80s comedy club fans: who remembers Bobcat Goldthwait? The funny looking guy with the funny sounding voice? Well, he's a director now, apparently he's been behind the camera for episodes of some live television as well as having directed a few of his own small features. His latest film was released on video-on-demand and then had a limited theatrical run in August 2009. "World's Greatest Dad," which he wrote and directed, is available on Netflix instant play (my very favorite and a great way to try out movies and TV you wouldn't normally waste time renting).

The movie stars Robin Williams as Lance, a private school poetry teacher who is also a failed writer. His son Kyle is that teen guy you see who's always screwing up. No one likes him and he's a jerk to everyone, including his dad and his best friend. He has an unhealthy obsession with porn and women and sex and in particular, auto-erotic asphyxiation - I think you can see where this is going. Lance has a pretty young girlfriend (a fair weather girlfriend who is a fellow teacher and won't go public with their relationship) but in most respects, allows himself to be walked on by her and by other teachers and by Kyle. Yes, he's a sad sack but Williams plays him right on the edge, not overblown in any way, never over-the-top Patch Adamsish.

When Kyle dies in an "awkward" accident, Lance writes a suicide note for him to spare him any embarrassment about the way he died. The letter is leaked to the school paper and suddenly, Kyle (and Lance) become heroes, representing all the downtrodden and invisible students. Lance decides to go further with the ruse and even constructs a journal containing all of Kyle's pithy thoughts and philosophies. The book is a huge success and propels Lance into the spotlight.

The only problem is, the one person who knew the real Kyle, his friend Andrew, doesn't believe any of it. He is the only thorn in all of this for Lance and the one who eventually brings Lance to his senses.

I heartily recommend this movie to anyone who loved "Rushmore," "Donnie Darko" (Richard Kelly is a producer and his presence is definitely felt) or even "Heathers." The movie hits the exact right tone - not too subtle or over-the-top. After all, beneath everything and despite the big laughs, this is about a man whose son dies and no matter how awful the kid was, he did love him. Robin Williams is fantastic as are the rest of the cast members. I can't believe I am now a huge Bobcat Goldthwait fan. Awesome.