By John M. Urbancich
From the not-so-beautiful mind of writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait comes Robin Williams as the “World’s Greatest Dad,” an oddly competent story about family, friendship, and even a little love.
And who knew that Daryl Sabara, the cute little boy from those “Spy Kids” films, could play such an insolent, insufferable, and intolerant teen? Sabara is the center of the piece as Kyle Clayton, whose single pop Lance (the nicely subdued Williams) warns the porno-loving cretin about, uh, taking his pleasures a bit too far in a darkly comic opening scene.
Well, next thing we know – after witnessing a few more examples of Kyle’s extremely mean spirit – Lance discovers his son accidentally killed by his own freakish behavior. Regardless of the boy’s nefarious ways, father is naturally devastated, and Williams leaves the emotional wreckage on the screen for all to see in a few heartrending moments.
Then, just as suddenly, perhaps feeling a combination of paternal guilt and devotion for his son, Lance gets an idea that sets the movie on a whole new glorious path. The high-school poetry teacher and failed writer pens his heretofore grandest work, a suicide note that makes Kyle look more misunderstood than misanthrope.
What occurs beyond that becomes a Goldthwait-ian mix of comedy and pathos, sadness and joy, absurdity and truth. The comedian-turned-filmmaker even makes a funny cameo that doesn’t intrude on a sparkling supporting cast. The endearing Alexie Gilmore, as Lance’s girlfriend/co-worker, and the good-to-see Mitzi McCall, as his eccentric neighbor, stand out in this cleverly cool movie.
Stars: Robin Williams, Daryl Sabara, Alexie Gilmore, Mitzi McCall, Henry Simmons
Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Studio/Official Site: http://www.bobcatswebsite.com/wgd.html
Photos courtesy Magnolia Pictures.
[John M. Urbancich has been reviewing movies and writing film features and celebrity profiles at Cleveland’s Sun Newspapers for 25 years. As a longtime member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, his work has been appearing on the Sun News website for more than a decade.]