December 28, 2014

World's Greatest Dad

Bobcat Goldthwait, 2009
High School Teacher Lance (Robin Williams) is surprised at the reaction of the school after his son's suicide.

World's Greatest is a uniquely dark piece of work bordering on ridiculousness at various points. Goldthwait manages to channel some energy that is challenging enough to resemble Todd Solondz while also making it absurd enough to resemble John Waters. But he still manages to mold it into something with some real charm. Goldthwait is comfortable making films about some controversial subject matter, and doesn't seem to care if you can't handle it. The subjects of suicide, hardcore pornography or auto-erotic asphyxiation don't sit well with everybody. Bobcat doesn't hesitate to explore this realm here. The film is filled with great performances, anchored with a really familiar warm performance from Robin Williams. His teacher character is much different from past teacher roles like his legendary performance in Good Will Hunting. While he had a sense of callused confidence there, here is more of a sweet doormat just looking to have a positive accord with the people in his life. Lance sips from his World's Greatest Dad coffee cup that he quietly cherishes because of it's ironic value. Probably the only nice thing that Kyle has ever done for Lance. Most of his exchanges with Kyle (Daryl Sabara) are one-sided - where Kyle says something dismissive to him and he simply walks away with his head down. Williams' Lance character draws the sympathy early when you see how horribly Kyle treats him. After a few exchanges you are begging for Kyle to get his comeuppance. The surprising reaction from everyone mourning Kyle's death is a familiar feeling. Quite often we see despicable people pass on only to draw a surprising amount of grief from many. They forget about the horrible things the person had done over the years. The person becomes a saintly figure. World's Greatest Dad is a look at death through an uninhibited lens. Sudden luck, a dramatic shift in life after a traumatic event. It's a really singular picture by Goldthwait that impressively balances the tragedy and comedy elements. 

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