Movie Review: World’s Greatest Dad (2009)

Posted: April 9, 2012 in Comedy
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Lance (Robin Williams) is a failed writer, currently working as an English teacher in his son Kyle’s (Daniel Sabara) school.  Kyle is an obnoxious 15 year-old obnoxious, nihilist loner with an unhealthy fixation with pornography.  Kyle has no interest in sports, and turns off his dad’s Bruce Hornsby cd, because he doesn’t like music either.  Lance is not doing much better in his life, the Principal (Geoff Pierson) tells him unless enrollment goes up in his poetry class, he will shut it down.  Lance is losing out to Mike Lane’s (Henry Simmons) English class.  Mike is everything Lance is not, he has an article published in the New Yorker, and is popular with the students. Lance is dating a much younger teacher in school, Claire (Alexie Gilmore) who prefers to keep their relationship a secret.  When Kyle kills himself in a dubious form of sexual gratification, Lance makes it look like a suicide, and writes the suicide note.  When the suicide note is published in school, the kids who once loathed Kyle, now will do anything to say they were a part of his life.  Lance seeing an opportunity to re-ignite his dormant writing career, publishes Kyle’s diary, making Kyle seem heroic and even a Bruce Hornsby fan and Kyle becomes even more popular, as does his dad. Kyle’s only friend in life Andrew (Evan Martin) keeps reminding Lance that Kyle wasn’t very smart and was a jerk, does Lance acknowledge the truth about his son, or does he continue to bask in the image of his son that he created and is now profiting from?

This is a very good movie.  If the viewer can get past a truly objectionable character Kyle, this movie contains some very keen insights, most notably the tendency to lionize people in death, even when they led somewhat questionable lives.  Nowhere is this tendency more prevalent than in high school, I know this because I’ve experienced this first hand.  Sure it’s a black comedy, primarily because Kyle is such a loathsome character, and his death is a result of unusual circumstances to say the least, but it asks a very fundamental question, does a father remake his son’s image in death?  Further, does he profit from the son’s newly renovated image if given the chance, or does he tell the truth no matter how bad it makes him or his son look?  Robin Williams gives a low key but effective performance as a man who is dumped on by everyone, including his son.  This is a very interesting performance by Williams, subtle flashes of humor, anger, sarcasm, all mixed together.  One of his better, if more unnoticed performances.  Daniel Sabara succeeded in making me dislike him thoroughly, and the rest of the high school kids created a bandwagon, liking Kyle in death out of guilt, that no one bothered to know him in life.  Credit goes to comedian Bobcat Golthwait, for writing and directing this edgy, disturbing black comedy.

World’s Greatest Dad.     Who’s your daddy?

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