World’s Greatest Dad – review

Oh how I do love a good black comedy and, if you appreciate them as well you know that the blacker the better. There is something about comedy that takes it so close to pathos, to horror (and vice versa) that those are the places where some of the best humor lies. It isn’t that you want to see the darker side all the time but that we all  know full well that in pain there can be laughter – especially other people’s pain. Which brings us to World’s Greatest Dad, the newest film by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, and it is wonderfully grim and delightfully dark.

The film follows a nice enough single father (Robin Williams) with a pretty worthless teenage son who he keeps trying to connect with. He knows the kid is three shades shy of a douchebag but loves him just the same and keeps trying to have a meaningful relationship with him, something the son wants nothing to do with. The son is far more interested in the more ‘adventurous’ porn on the internet and dear old dad is happy to have his poetry class at the local high school and his secret relationship with one of the other teacher’s at school. When a terrible tragedy besets him he is forced to make a hard decision that, while meant for the best, sets gears into motion that will all but destroy everything he has. He finds that, even the most selfless deed can be corrupted, if given enough encouragement.

I know, I am being coy with what the movie is about but, for me, it was not knowing what was going to happen that made the movie so wonderful and dark. This is a great movie, with solid acting, writing, and directing and with a fantastic sense of the macabre. The filmmakers nail the darker side of high school like few films manage, and nail it without making the kids, or the staff monsters. Really, as monstrous as some of the actions on hand, no one becomes cartoonish, just, well, caricaturish. HAHA. Williams is wonderfully reserved here and the film works because he wants so badly to be a good person, a good father, a good lover, a good writer, and a good teacher but in trying to do the right thing he manages to damn himself to a new circle of Hell.

I really adore this film. It does SO much that is right – sad but not sentimental, funny but not ridiculous, and dark but not without hope. What the movie says is that sometimes even the worst of circumstances, and worst of sins can bring us to a place where the world isn’t nearly as grim as we once thought it was. A place where we can finally find ourselves and like what we find.

8.5 out of 10

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