I got one of those "World's Greatest Dad" t-shirts and a mug too back in the early days of fatherhood. There were a few years when it seemed like I was deserving of the title - especially on those days when I walked in the door after work and the boys ran to me yelling, "Daddy's home!"
Now, there is a movie out called World's Greatest Dad. The dad is a high school English teacher. (Well, it says "high school poetry teacher" but I can't imagine him having 5 or 6 classes of just poetry.)
So, they got me with the film's basics: he is a teacher (I have been doing that a long time); poetry (check); he's depressed at least partially because he writes but doesn't get published (check on the bummed out and check on the not getting published); he has a son (check times two).
It stars Robin Williams, who I really like, but even I will admit that he has made some bad script choices over the years, and when he gets really hyper, he can be pretty annoying.
Maybe he needs a strong director and tight script to show him at his best. I love Williams in a bunch of films, some hits, some not: The World According To Garp, What Dream May Come, The Fisher King, Awakenings, Good Will Hunting. I even like some films where Williams is allowed to go crazy and does it well - Aladdin fits that category. And Robin has played the high school English teacher well before - in Dead Poets Society.
So who directed this film? Bobcat Goldthwait. Uh huh, Goldthwait, the once-crazy, screeching, standup comedian-now-turned-filmmaker. You know how they give kids with attention deficit disorder (ADD) amphetamine-like drugs to calm them down? Counter-intuitive, right? But it seems to work. Williams + Goldthwait. It might work.
Actually, the have worked together before. That film is a cult fave called Shakes the Clown. According to the reviews I have seen of the new film, Bobcat seems to keep Robin pretty much in control.
The film's title (and the trailer too to a degree) unfortunately makes you think it's a "family comedy" (let's not mention Williams' Fathers' Day and RV), but I think the film is trying to be something else.
The story centers on Lance Clayton (Williams), high school poetry teacher, and his equally (maybe more so) bummed out son, Kyle.
The film begins is back and forth between the two. It sounds like the second half shifts into something more surreal and the mask of tragedy comes out. (I have read reviews that compare it to a weaker Donnie Darko and that say the film's plot transition goes "faster than you could page Patch Adams." )
Now, this post is not a REview but a PREview. It's what I am thinking before I enter the theater - or if things really seem grim, before I add it to my Netflix queue. But I am curious about the film.
If you saw it, feel free to post a comment - but no spoilers.