SingularCity reviews Robin Williams’ new movie about a single father.
Dark comedies are a tricky concept. Pick something completely taboo, inappropriate, or blasphemous and present it in a humorous manner in order to reveal some underlying truth. Fortunately, in Bob Goldthwait’s latest film, World’s Greatest Dad, he manages to convey something as tragic as teen suicide as an absurdly comical topic.
The film opens with a dismal portrait of Lance Clayton’s (Robin Williams) life. A stack of unpublished manuscripts looms in his monochromatic apartment. Lance’s impassive, perverted son Kyle (Daryl Sabra) constantly reminds him what a failure he is, and as a high school English teacher at his son’s school, Lance faces threats of unemployment over his wildly unpopular poetry course. The only brief moments of enjoyment in his life come from his girlfriend Claire (Alexie Gilmore), the hot but eccentric art teacher. Even this is blighted, however, as Claire refuses to acknowledge their relationship publicly and sadistically rejects his advances citing bizarre circumstances such as her mother having a panic attack.
Lance grudgingly goes through the motions of living his life, until he comes home to find that his son accidently killed himself while practicing autoerotic asphyxia. Lance silently composes a suicide note and hangs his son’s corpse in order to preserve some dignity in his death. Soon the note goes viral on the high school campus and Kyle becomes a martyr, despite having had only one friend while living.
The film examines the repercussions of Lance’s note and the attention Kyle’s “suicide” receives. Director and writer Bob Goldthwait, a standup comedian, probably most famous for his rasping but high pitched voice, deftly portrays the twisted intentions of the people who surround Lance after his son’s death. He effectively weaves the film’s disturbing material with glib one liners and an eclectic soundtrack.
While Sabra appears in a seemingly one-dimensional role as Lance’s son, his comedic talent shines alongside that of the daunting veteran, Williams. Williams also gives a commendable performance, noting a recent slew of critical and box office flops. The character he plays is a far cry from his typical slapstick fare, offering audiences a mature perspective on loneliness and the desire for recognition.
Despite the unsettling subject of the film, Worlds Greatest Dad presents an amusing mix of offensive humor and jarring reality. While the movie does get bogged down at parts with predictable scenes, from start to finish the film shocks and forces you to examine your own sense of self and your motivations.