World's Greatest Dad
Details: 99 mins , United States, English
Synopsis: Robin Williams stars as Lance Clayton, a man who has learned to settle. He dreamed of being a rich and famous writer, but has only managed to make it as a high school poetry teacher. His only son Kyle (Daryl Sabara) is an insufferable jackass who won't give his father the time of day. He is dating Claire (Alexie Gilmore), the school's adorable art teacher, but she doesn't want to get serious – or even acknowledge publicly that they are dating.Then, in the wake of a freak accident, Lance suffers the worst tragedy and greatest opportunity of his life. He is suddenly faced with the possibility of all the fame, fortune and popularity he ever dreamed of, if he can only live with the knowledge of how he got there.
A brutally sharp satire on the pursuit of fame.
It’s almost too great a stretch to believe that Bobcat Goldthwait, the shrill comedian who enjoyed 15 minutes of fame in the late ‘80s, could have become one of Hollywood’s most interesting and daring writer/directors. But it’s true and World’s Greatest Dad, the sickest, smartest comedy to come from America in a long time, proves it.
Goldthwait’s film, like his debut effort Shakes the Clown (1991), takes as its central theme the shallow pursuit of fame, and all of the denials associated with it. It is a fascinating subject of which Goldthwait, whose film career peaked after sidekick roles in Police Academy 2, 3 and 4, can claim to have had first-hand experience.
Lance Clayton (Robin Williams) is a meek high-school English teacher who, despite years of rejection, still yearns to enjoy fame and fortune as a published writer. He lives with Kyle, his utterly objectionable son (a repulsive, hilarious Daryl Sabara), who hurls vicious insults at his father, his best friend Andrew (Evan Martin) and the student body in general, when not indulging in all manner of sexual self-abuse. When Clayton loses his son after Kyle misjudges a session of auto erotic-asphyxiation, he pens a suicide note that he feels best honours the confused young man Kyle had become. Clayton does not anticipate that the note with come to speak to and for all the sad and disenfranchised youths of modern American society, nor that it might deliver him the celebrity for which he has so yearned.
Goldthwait knows that only out of the darkest places can one find true illumination. Williams, in one of the bravest roles of his career, knows this – the best stand-up comedy he ever did was when he delved inside his own substance abuse problems and family issues – and he follows his director with a fierce commitment to the heart of the material. The extended, single-shot scene in which Lance discovers his dead son is staged in all its agonising reality; it is some of the best work Williams has ever done.
Mesmerisingly crude at times, World’s Greatest Dad is also a brutally frank film. Goldthwait riffs on sexual politics and ageing, and uses the high-school-as-a-microcosm device with the assuredness of a director with a keen ear for both caustic, bitter dialogue and melancholy sentiment. But Goldthwait’s script is at its best when tracking Clayton’s immoral descent into the depths of his own lie. It is a Faustian tale for a generation that craves the validity of B-list notoriety. That his film is also bracingly original and agonisingly funny signals the rebirth of a Hollywood cast-off, back and stronger than ever before.
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