World's Greatest Dad (15)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/09/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 99 mins

Jet-black comedy from the writer-director of Sleeping Dogs with a terrific performance from Robin Williams and a sharply observed script that's both thought-provoking and darkly funny.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait (who made the brilliant Sleeping Dogs), World's Greatest Dad stars Robin Williams as Lance Clayton, a high school teacher and single father who lives with his obnoxious, foul-mouthed, masturbation-obsessed 15-year-old son Kyle (Daryl Sabara) and dreams of becoming a famous writer despite the stack of rejected novels in his desk drawer. However, when Kyle dies of auto-erotic asphyxiation, Lance attempts to dignify his son's tragic death by writing a heartfelt suicide note and posting it on the internet, whereupon events spiral quickly out of control.

The Good
With a title like World's Greatest Dad, you could be forgiven for thinking that this was another Robin Williams schmaltz-fest but this is actually the polar opposite of a Robin Williams schmaltz-fest and proves, once again, that Williams can be a terrific dramatic actor when the occasion arises. As such, casting Williams was a shrewd move on Goldthwait's part because his gentle nature and innate likeability ensure that he remains sympathetic even as we're appalled by his actions.

The other element that makes the story work is an equally strong performance from Daryl Sabara (you may remember him as Juni from the Spy Kids franchise), who's unspeakably horrible as Kyle, making his subsequent eulogising from his peers all the more absurd. There's also strong support from Evan Martin (as Andrew, Kyle's only friend, who suspects the truth) and from Alexie Gilmore as Claire, Lance's art teacher girlfriend whose eyes were beginning to wander towards another, hunkier teacher (Henry Simmons) before Lance's new-found popularity.

The Great
There are shades of Heathers and Pump Up The Volume (i.e. the hypocrisy of eulogising dead morons) in Goldthwait's sharply observed script and the film also explores the intriguing issues of talent versus fame while making a series of comments on our media sensation-obsessed culture.

Worth seeing?
World’s Greatest Dad is a brilliantly written, commendably offbeat and darkly funny comedy with a terrific performance from Robin Williams. Here's hoping that Bobcat Goldthwait keeps making movies like this because he's currently something of a unique voice in American cinema and his films deserve a wider audience. Highly recommended.

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World's Greatest Dad (15)
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Content updated: 17/07/2018 06:58

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