Sunday, September 13, 2009

Scene on Screen: World's Greatest Dad

I mentioned being interested in going to see Bobcat Goldthwait's newest film, World's Greatest Dad. My interest was first sparked reading an interview with Goldthwait from my favorite pop cultural resource, the AV Club, but as I recommend this movie, I must recommend that you not read this or any other article about it, because they all give the whole damn plot away (definitely do not read Roger Ebert's total plot summary review, glad I didn't see that 'til after the fact).

That shit frustrates me to no end - I would like just enough information to know that I'm interested. This can be a challenging standard as a reviewer to meet, since a twist or vital turning point are often ultimately the most provocative or interesting part, but World's Greatest Dad has plenty to offer in the way of themes and general qualities, without spilling the beans on every damn thing that happens.

Goldthwait has often spoken of a predilection for making people uncomfortable with his "comedy." He's not seeking your approval or dying to be liked. That tendency is in full force here. If frank discussion of masturbation (including exotic forms, like autoerotic asphyxiation), casual use of un-PC language by the teenaged portion of the cast, or unattractive but sexually active adults freak you out, this isn't for you. Goldthwait realizes it's more important to be true to his vision than to be liked by "everyone," and this realization is mirrored in the journey of his protagonist in the film.

World's Greatest Dad stars Robin Williams as a nice guy, who has the rather doormatty occupations of under-appreciated teacher and father, but nevertheless is capable of witty banter, bluntness (and blunt-smoking) and sexuality. He has hobbies and interests outside of parenthood. What a genuine, likable, fully realized character! The witty banter is just hilarious and non-stop, between Williams and his totally douchey kid, and Williams and his attractive fellow teacher ladyfriend. Some people in real life are witty like that too.

Goldthwait's portrayal of teenagers is relentless. His lack of idealizing or romanticizing of youth is refreshing and rings true (especially if you're part of the segment of the population immune to this stupid fascination with the kiddos). Most of the kids in the movie are self-absorbed, unimaginative and insensitive, not unlike many adults, who probably started out just like that too.

This film serves as a rather scathing commentary on how we, as a culture, deal with death by idealizing the deceased (just like the youth - cursed rose-colored glasses!). As I was watching, I was tempted to think: "This is an exaggeration, people aren't this ridiculous." But then I remembered probable child molester, definite nutter Michael Jackson, who has been made a saint and martyr in his utterly ridiculous death (fucking Propofol - as a sleeping pill?!). Goldthwait has drawn the same comparison in his interviews about the film.

Anyway, rarely have I been so vocally engaged with a movie while watching it - laughing out loud, and involuntarily responding to the onscreen antics as they become increasingly appalling.

Here, this is an enticing, non-spoilery segment with Williams and Goldthwait about nudin' it up for this movie:

The trailer is also "safe."

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