EIFF 2010: World’s Greatest Dad review

A terrific Robin Williams comedy, from the mind of Bobcat Goldthwait. Carl warms a lot to World's Greatest Dad...

This film was a major shock to the system. Not because it has shocking elements in it, although that is definitely a factor, but because it was a really, really great Robin Williams comedy, and I don’t think that has been said about the man’s career for at least ten years.

It starts out with Robin Williams’ character, Lance Clayton, imagining himself winning some kind of award for his writing, when, in truth, nothing he’s ever written has ever been published.

Lance feels unappreciated everywhere he turns. At home his son is mean to him (and everyone) and generally shows him no respect or concern at all. At his work as a teacher he is ignored and not taken seriously. Even his girlfriend worms out of spending time with him.

However, he soldiers on, even when he finds his son choking himself while masturbating. He tells him never to do it again, and tries his best to cope with the situation, but that and everything else in his life is getting him down.

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To say any more at this point would give the game away, but I assure you that this is definitely a film to see. It’s a dark comedy, obviously, which is a shoot off to a new vein for Williams, which is surprising because he so adept at it. In fact, everyone here gives their all to the film and the movie is much more believable in convincing me of what I was seeing, so much to the point that I was hiding under my hands during some of the more cringe worthy scenes.

Bobcat Goldthwait is an utter genius of a man, who delivers this film in such a fresh way that the entire film feels like an original concept entirely from beginning to end. I don’t think anybody has done a film like this before, and if they have, I don’t think they would have done it as good as this. It’s so stylistically brilliant and scripted so deftly that it’s hard to believe that it’s the same man who was in the Police Academy movies that’s behind it.

I expect it to get at least 15 certificate when it is released, which just goes to prove how dark this is for Williams to be doing. Apart from some scary turns, I think the highest his films, or his comedies at least, have gotten in the past decade have been 12 certificates.

The truth is that he shines here and every scene is an utter winner, especially the one scene that everyone will be talking about for ages after seeing it, which was so utterly effecting it’s hard to believe it was in there.

What’s obvious here too, is that Goldthwait loves films. His references, the films on display and the influences for this script are all clearly pointed out in the film and it’s clear that a love for great films gave him the push to do this incredible script.

I have tried hard to find holes in this and even tried creating a few, but the only thing I can even take a second look at is the scene (and without spoiling it) where everyone looks down the camera. It seemed a little out of place, but when taken within the whole, it makes the whole scene make sense. And that was me nitpicking every single thing about it.

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It was a stupendously good film with swathes of incredible humour, awkward moments and some intensely great drama. It’s always good to find a film that is hard to dislike, especially when that’s what I had expected walking in. It’s even better to find one that I would proudly call the best film I have seen in 2010. It was almost hard for me to consider writing those words down, because I never believed that a modern Robin Williams film would ever be worth it, as the man, in most respects, has had his best years, and before this, was long past funny.

It seems like Williams and Goldthwait are strange, but incredible bedfellows, who together have made the best film of the year so far.


4 out of 5