Film Review – World’s Greatest Dad

Upon first reading the synopsis for World’s Greatest Dad, I was immediately reminded of the 80’s hit, Heathers. Somehow it always happens that every ten years or so there comes a dark comedy centered on teenage suicide.  Heathers started the trend and was followed in the late 90’s by the not-as-good, Jawbreaker. The place where World’s Greatest Dad differs from these two films is the lead character; Heathers and Jawbreaker both follow female leads that accidentally murder fellow high school classmates.  The girls then decide to make it look as if their dead friends had offed themselves, planting fake suicide notes.  World’s Greatest Dad followed a different path than this, showing a father in a similar leading role.

Robin Williams stars as Lance Clayton, a high school English teacher who is attempting to hold on to his job, his girlfriend, and his son’s respect…and failing miserably at all three.  He is trying to be an author but has never successfully published anything.  The first half of the movie is a hilarious spectacle of sorts, showing Clayton’s son, Kyle (Daryl Sabara of Spy Kids fame), ridiculing and disrespecting him at every turn.  Kyle is a high school student who seems to only care about being a pain in his father’s ass.  Lance does his best to bond with his son to no avail.  One night while Lance is away at his girlfriend’s house, Kyle decides to masturbate with a noose around his neck, accidentally killing himself.  Lance discovers him upon arriving home and for the first time in the film, you feel genuinely bad for this man.  After a painful and tear-filled goodbye, Lance sets Kyle’s body up as if he had killed himself, writing a fake suicide note.  The suicide note is published in the school paper, setting up the main plotline of the film.  As Kyle’s suicide note begins to gain popularity, Lance realizes what money could be made off of this.  He follows up the suicide note with a journal, which gains national publicity.  His life is finally starting to look up, and Lance is for once happy.

This movie showed a relationship which is rare to see so honestly in films; a father who dislikes his son.  Lance was not just a father who disliked his son but a father who was trying with all of his heart to get along with his son and have a genuine friendship with him.  I was taken on a roller coaster of emotion while watching this and was ultimately reminded exactly why dark comedy is one of my favorite genres.  Seeing Robin Williams in a high-quality movie was certainly a breath of fresh air as well.  As of late, it all but appeared that he had forgotten how to select roles.  He was completely believable and very likeable as a grieving father.  Daryl Sabara was surprisingly good in the supporting actor role, playing an angry, moody teenager.  Struggling to make the transition from child actor to adult actor, I can only hope that this part will have helped him to get there.

Overall, I found this movie to be incredibly entertaining and utterly enlightening.  I wish that movies like this would get more mainstream attention; after watching a movie as good as this, I am always reminded what a small percentage of the population is interested in an intellectual movie experience as opposed to a visual one.  If you are a part of that small percentage, then look no further.

4.5 out of 5 stars