World’s Greatest Dad (Missed Movies)

When my local Blockbuster was going out of business and selling off its stock of DVD’s, on various visits I watched the stock dwindle except for the stack of copies of World’s Greatest Dad (2009). I did not return to the store on the last day it was open, but I suspect that every movie may have been sold expect for the copies of this movie.

Perhaps because movie-goers initially expected a light-hearted mindless Robin Williams movie, the film did poorly at the box office too. It is unfortunate that so few people have seen this movie, although I understand that World’s Greatest Dad is not for everyone. If you are easily offended or only want to see run-of-the mill comedies, skip this movie. But if you enjoy dark comedies and want something different, check it out. The way World’s Greatest Dad divides viewers is shown by the Rotten Tomatoes ratings, which show a 60% rating from audience members but a more respectable critics rating of 88%.

It is hard to describe the movie without giving too much away, but Williams plays a high school teacher and aspiring writer who is the father of one of the most obnoxious teenagers ever portrayed on film. When a tragic accident occurs and Williams tries to protect the person involved, he sets forth a chain of events that turns his life around. After he finds some success and happiness based on a lie, he begins to question whether he is really happy. Some characters are exposed as insincere, but considering that much of the film is set in a high school, is that a surprise? Ultimately, the movie asks questions about when love and friendship are real and when they are fake. And these serious questions are addressed in a funny, dark way.

Robin Williams has made some interesting choices as an actor, including exploring a darker side in such movies as Insomnia and One-Hour-Photo. While his character in World’s Greatest Dad is not as sinister as his character in those movies, in some way the movie is more disturbing than those because it mines something deeper and dark in modern American life. The film is not for the whole family and some may find parts offensive. It is rated R due to discussions of sex (and a little Robin Williams nudity), not due to violence.

There are not many likeable characters in World’s Greatest Dad and there are few, if any, laugh-out-loud moments. But throughout the film, you might notice a chuckle in your throat trying to get out as the film goes from one “I can’t believe they did that” moment to the next. Ultimately, the movie, directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, shows it has a lot of heart and it makes you think. But if you prefer something that is unlikely to offend or challenge you, then you should look elsewhere.

{Missed Movies is our continuing series on good films you might have missed because they did not receive the recognition they deserved when released.}

Did you love or hate World’s Greatest Dad? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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