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Movie Review

World's Greatest Dad

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"World's Greatest Dad" is a mildly amusing comedy that, regrettably, doesn't have the courage of its convictions. Written and directed by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, the film has the potential to be a wonderfully dark piece punctuated by an appropriately amoral—some might say immoral—resolution. But it doesn't risk it.

Lance Clayton (Robin Williams) is the classic loser: a high school teacher who dreams of being a great writer and who continues to submit his manuscripts, each of which is either rejected or ignored. His teenage son, Kyle (Daryl Sabara), is a none-too-bright, obnoxious youngster; while his perky girlfriend, Claire (Alexie Gilmore), doesn't want to be seen with Lance in public. When a personal tragedy occurs, Lance exploits it as an opportunity to be viewed in a new light. For the first time in his life, Lance is admired and adored.

Williams is convincing as the luckless, lonely man who seizes his moment and then slowly comes to terms with what he has done, though it is not an inspired performance. Perhaps that's because it's a familiar Williams' persona.

Gilmore does a fine job as an intellectually limited and emotionally fickle art teacher whose affections turn on a dime. But the revelation is Sabara as a foulmouthed adolescent who is remarkably stupid and distasteful.

In smaller roles, Mitzi McCall is impressive as Lance's aging neighbor who loves brownies laced with marijuana. She subtly evokes an ex-hippie who never thought she'd end up alone or what that might mean if she did.

Evan Martin is also excellent as Kyle's friend Andrew, with clearly the highest IQ of the lot, who immediately sees through Lance's ploy. Without ever getting sappy, Andrew and Lance forge a father-son bond that is very nicely done.

The problem is the film's cop-out ending, which is predictable and not really plausible. This flick cries out for the crueler spin.

Genre: Dark Comedy.
Written and directed by: Bobcat Goldthwait.
Starring: Robin Williams, Alexie Gilmore, Daryl Sabara, Mitzi McCall, Evan Martin

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