WORLD'S GREATEST DAD
Satirical Morality Tale
Release Date: August 21, 2009
Runtime: 99 minutes
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Executive Producer: Jennifer Roth
Writer: Bobcat Goldthwait
Address Comments To:Bill Banowski, CEO, Magnolia Pictures
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The story opens with Robin Williams as high school English teacher Lance Clayton narrating his failures as a would-be professional writer. Despite seven novels and numerous articles, all of his work has been rejected.
Lance is upset to discover his son, Kyle, trying to please himself sexually while strangling himself, aka the accidental death of actor David Carradine of TV’s KUNG FU. Kyle is a crude, angry, rebellious teenager. He hates his father and nearly all the kids at school except for his nerdy friend, Andrew. And, he constantly gets into trouble, not just for his poor grades.
Cut to the next day at school. Kyle’s father is having a secret affair with a younger teacher, Claire. She often seems more interested, however, in another English teacher her age, whose elective course in creative writing gathers far more interest among students than Lance’s elective poetry class.
Kyle gets in trouble for making a lewd comment about a female student who is ignoring him. The principal warns Lance and his son that one more incident like that and the son will be expelled.
[Spoilers follow] Lance keeps trying to help his son and relate to him, but Kyle rejects him at every turn. One night, however, Kyle reluctantly agrees to go out to dinner with his dad and his girlfriend, Claire. The dinner goes somewhat okay, but when Lance tells Kyle at their house that he’s going to take Claire home, Kyle’s crude sexual comments to his father suggest that Kyle will never change his ways. Lance promises to come right back, and he does, even though Claire tempts him to stay longer so they can fornicate.
Returning home, Lance tragically discovers that Kyle has accidentally killed himself while trying to please himself with a cell phone photo of Claire’s panties that Kyle secretly took under the table at dinner. Lance makes Kyle’s death look like a suicide and even writes a suicide note. When the moving note is leaked on the high school campus, everyone in school suddenly claims to be Kyle’s friend and says he was a misunderstood genius. Also suddenly, the students start coming to the new school grief counselor to discuss the feelings unleashed by the fake suicide note.
Lance basks in the sudden glory attached to Kyle and the sympathy everyone gives him for Kyle’s death. Suddenly, Lance’s poetry class is full of students and his rival’s class is empty. Lance falsely agrees with everyone that Kyle was a sensitive, but troubled, genius. To prove it, Lance writes a fake journal under Kyle’s name, and the school and the media go crazy about it. The situation gets so out of hand that Lance can hardly contain his laughter about the politically correct gullibility that seems to have infected all those around him, including society at large. He’s also secretly happy that, finally, someone has recognized his writing. Even so, the lies Lance has to tell to maintain this façade surrounding his dead son begin to eat at his conscience.
WORLD’S GREATEST DAD is often absolutely brilliant in the way it satirically skewers the sinfulness, hypocrisy, gullibility, and politically correct psychobabble of modern society. It also shows that even children and teenagers are susceptible to these things, to profound effect.
Regrettably, however, the director, standup comic and comic actor Bobcat Goldthwaite, lays on the obnoxious, sexual crudity of the son’s character too thick. The dead son seems to have no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and the movie relishes the idea of pushing the character to be as outrageous as he possibly can be. This diminishes the tragedy of his accidental death, even though Robin Williams as the father powerfully portrays the inconsolable grief that even the death of a bad child can cause a parent.
WORLD’S GREATEST DAD also contains lots of strong foul language, including many “f” words. There is also a depicted sex scene between the father and his girlfriend. Finally, the father smokes marijuana and bakes pot-laced brownies for his older neighbor. This negative content also diminishes the moral authority of the satire in WORLD’S GREATEST DAD. That, and the son’s extremely lewd behavior, pushes the movie into unacceptable territory for media-wise families and intelligent moviegoers.
WORLD’S GREATEST DAD is often brilliant in the way it skewers the sinfulness, hypocrisy, gullibility, and politically correct psychobabble of modern society. Regrettably, however, it lays on the obnoxious, sexual crudity and hatefulness of the dead son too thick. Also, it contains other negative content, including lots of strong foul language, a depicted sex scene, and references to using marijuana. That, and the son’s extremely lewd behavior, pushes the movie into unacceptable territory.