World’s Greatest Dad (2009)

Lance Clifton, an unpublished author and high school poetry teacher, walks into his home to find that his troubled teenage son, Kyle, has killed himself by erotic asphyxiation. To save embarrassment, Lance not only hangs his son in a closet, he also pens a suicide note. However, what Lance didn’t expect was that the entire high school would become inspired by the note.

Robin Williams gives a terrific performance in what was being promoted as a dark comedy. I didn’t find many things truly funny so I would say it’s more of a drama with Williams naturally lightening the mood at points. It was an interesting plot and a look at high school bullying, media in our culture, and confused teenagers. It also reminded me of the Save Ferris moments in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” when we see posters all around the school mourning Kyle even when we see earlier in the movie that he was disliked by pretty much everyone in the school.

Bobcat Goldthwait wrote and directed the film and also makes a cameo towards the end of the film. He moves things along well and the viewer shouldn’t be bored at any point, however I felt the predictable ending lacked the punch that the movie was building to. Also, while music is seemingly played throughout the movie, it wasn’t a huge annoyance until a song was a bit too on the nose. That is one of my biggest pet peeves, when the filmmaker is looking at you asking, “Get it? We’re playing this song because it was mentioned earlier. Isn’t that clever of me?” However, there are some memorable images in the film. For instance, a girl who cuts herself starts cutting Kyle’s name in her leg. I supposed one could take that as amusing but I found it remotely sad.

World’s Greatest Dad is a rare film where everyone knows what will happen at the end, but we still care how it gets there. It is quirky and borders on silly at times, but Robin Williams does a great job of keeping the story grounded. I recommend World’s Greatest Dad based on Williams’ performance and the unique story, even if it was slightly fumbled at the end.

4 out of 5 stars

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