December 22, 2009
Biggest movie surprise of the year
On a recent episode of the Filmspotting podcast, the hosts listed their favorite overlooked movies of the year--movies that didn't attract big audiences but were worth a look. I liked a lot of the ones they picked, including Moon, Food, Inc., and Humpday (they also listed Anvil! The Story of Anvil, which I still haven't freaking seen yet.) So I decided to check out one I hadn't seen, which they thought was one of the strangest comedies they'd seen in a while: World's Greatest Dad.
You may not have heard of this movie, which was released late this summer, and you almost definitely didn't see it: it only made about $200,000 in box office. Here are three interesting things about this movie:
2) It was written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait
3) It's maybe the darkest, most cynical comedy I've ever seen.
These things are probably the reasons why so few people saw it: how do you market a really, really dark Robin Williams comedy? No Mrs. Doubtfire fan should see this movie (you can see some of their horrified comments on IMDb) and few fans of disturbing, sick comedy would be all that intrigued by a Robin Williams vehicle.
I'm not going to give away anything about the plot, which is weird enough that it should be experienced with no advance knowledge. The movie centers on some really detestable, self-centered characters, some overtly so and some who think they're good and decent people but are actually as bad as everyone else, sort of like Arrested Development's Michael Bluth. The main themes include suicide, masturbation, literary fraud, and poop porn. And it has a sort of sweet ending.
It's not for everyone, and it's probably not altogether bad that the movie didn't reach many people in theaters, because it just would have made the people who should have been watching Old Dogs feel kind of dirty. But for fans of Heathers who wish the main characters had been floundering, desperate adults instead of sneering teens, it's worth a look. Robin Williams is great, and his outrageously obnoxious son is played by Juni from Spy Kids (Daryl Sabara) which is a sort of shocking new direction for him. There were some funnier movies that came out this year, but none that were anything like this.
(There are a few good reviews of the movie that are worth reading after you've seen it, but they give away everything about the plot that's best left as a surprise. Here's the Times review and the Cinematical review; both are huge spoilers. Roger Ebert liked it too, but the movie wasn't quite dark enough for him.)
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