The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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World’s Greatest Dad

The film, World’s Greatest Dad, was not what I expected. More than anything, it was a dark piece of chocolate (with almost 80% pure cacao), darker than any performance Robin Williams has done before, and, quite frankly, darker than anything I’ve ever seen on the screen. (I almost felt I was reading Lucky Jim again, Kingsley Amis’s famous comic novel, in that I sometimes didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.) Bobcat Goldthwait, the stand-up comedian who wrote the screenplay for the film, obviously knows too well what fame does to a person. Because it’s based on a fiction (in the film, an outright lie), the false image of fame hallows out the bearer like a pumpkin squash until there’s nothing left but a mask.

World's Greatest DadWatching World’s Greatest Dad is a visceral experience. There are moments when you cringe in disgust at how the characters behave. A few moments later you’re laughing your ass off. One of the funniest scenes is the one pictured here, where Williams starts crying uncontrollably in front of a display of adult magazines on the street. Of course, you have to know the twisted plot to understand why.

This is not a great film, but one that packs a wallop. Williams has never been better and the supporting cast is perfect for this comedy of manners turned on its head and dunked in sheit. The “world’s greatest dad” does the right thing in the end, and we are relieved, but one wonders how many others lack the courage. It’s much easier living behind an image, especially one that people like, rather than being true to yourself.