Dark comedy is something incredibly difficult to pull off. I always think that it’s many the movie that, only after looking at it and deciding that it’s just completely offensive, the filmmakers decide to tell everyone that they planned it that way all along and that it’s a dark comedy. “World’s Greatest Dad,” written and directed by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait is one of the rare few who gets it very, very right.
Robin Williams stars as Lance Clayton- failed author, father and schoolteacher. His son, played by former “Spy Kids” star Daryl Sabara, is a pain-in-the-ass. He hates everything. One would just write it off as normal teenage stuff, but even his classmates don’t really like him. He’s rude, obnoxious and just a kind of all-around terrible person. Lance is trying to be a good dad, but Kyle makes it incredibly difficult. There is nothing Lance can do to make his child like/respect/care about those around him.
Lance is dating Claire, another teacher, but he worries that she’s planning on moving on from him to the younger, cooler and more successful teacher. And then it happens, Lance comes home from a date with Claire to find Kyle slumped over on the edge of his bed, his belt around his neck. In an attempt at auto-erotic asphyxiation, things got a little out of hand. Kyle is dead. Lance mourns, but quickly leaps into action. He pulls up Kyle’s pants, and hangs him in his closet. He types up a suicide note, leaving it in Kyle’s pocket, and blaming everyone around him for his misery.
The school reacts in shock. Lance tries to play it off, but everyone is touched and wants to make themselves a bigger part of Kyle’s life in death than they did in life. The school counselor pushes Lance for excerpts from Kyle’s diary, and things get completely out of hand.
“World’s Greatest Dad,” has incredible pacing, timing and taste. It’s note perfect for the whole running time. High school suicide is a well-worn path, for both comedy and drama, but Goldthwait creates his own way, going places that people might not think to go and handling it with real style along the way. All the performances are excellent, but Williams stands out. Where many of his recent movies are a little over-the-top and too much, here he strikes an excellent balance. He’s touching, funny, surprising and immensely watchable the entire time. In fact, after a while, you forget that this is the same guy who was an excellent poetry teacher in another movie. This movie walks that narrow path superbly.
And another thing, it’s really funny. Goldthwait is an excellent comedy writer and this just shows how skilled he is with all different voices.
It’s an easy thing to see the names Robin Williams and Bobcat Goldthwait and assume this movie is a call-back to the 1980s comedy scene. That it’ll be past it’s prime and, maybe a little funny, but nothing worth paying $9 for. You can think that, but you’d be completely wrong. “World’s Greatest Dad,” is definitely worth seeking out. It’s a wonderful movie. -Sam