Thursday, September 03, 2009

When "World's" Collide

Oh, I almost totally forgot that I saw this. Might as well get a damn review out of it. And while I'm happy for Jimmy Kimmel... at least, I THINK I am, this will surely put his Kingmaker status to the test. I guess the film wasn't good enough to be funded by his Jackhole Industries, but he did have director and frequent Kimmel collaborator Bobcat Goldthwait, and frequent Jimmy Kimmel Live guest and the film's star Robin Williams, on his show not too long ago. It did manage to generate some headlines which may translate into some extra box office. We shall see.
For me, these days, a film's ultimate sin is amateurishness. And while Goldthwait and company are far from amateurs in the world of professional comedy, in terms of putting a film together, World's Greatest Dad smacked ever so slightly of film school. Mostly in the cinematography and the script. I said it before and I'll say it again: Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly was one of the film's producers; couldn't he get Poster to do this? And Robin: after all the times they worked together, couldn't he get Donald McAlpine to do a little pro-bono work? I dunno; maybe the sets were too small.
Or maybe it's the Curse of Seattle. Seattle gets all the lame movies: Life or Something Like It, Assassins, Disclosure to name a few. Even Cameron Crowe gave up on Seattle! But I know someday he will come back to complete the trilogy. Even if it's just a documentary about Starbucks or the EMP, he will come back.
But maybe World's Greatest Dad will change all that. I mean, they musta went all over! Downtown, West Seattle... I recognized our dorky park signs with the bright color stripes: red, green... perhaps you remember them!
And I use the word 'dorky' half-ass deliberately, because the script seems mired in the world of South Park and ... well, pretty much South Park. I had another example before. In case you don't know my world view, that's bad. South Park may have had some moments, but to me it's pretty much amateur night. Oh! South Park and Kevin Smith, and all other proponents of the school of comedy that says if you don't find our stuff funny, you have no sense of humor. Their problem is they can't distinguish between comedy and just plain obscenities. No, that all-too-useful website is going to put a dent in the potty-mouth humor market. Mark my words: schoolyard bullies HATE this website because it levels the playing field for them. They had to learn their obscenities the old-fashioned way.
...Where was I? Oh yeah. I know this is getting a lot of critical praise right now, and if you notice it's not for the cinematography. But some have philosophically asked themselves: how did this work of genius pull it off? How does it take an act of tragedy (auto-erotic asphyxiation gone awry) and turn it into dark comedy gold? For me, it seems to do it by dealing as thoroughly as possible in stereotypes. The school that Robin Williams teaches at is populated by stereotypical students, teachers and administrators. This seems to have a soothing effect on the tragedy that the film's based upon. Some of the characters here are good, like Toby Huss, but he plays a publishing agent who shows up at the end. Alexie Gilmore does what she can here as the love interest. I hate to say this is a role of a lifetime for her, but this should propel her to bigger and better things.
Another script device is the recycling of elements. I hate to give anything away here, but one critic did complain that Goldthwait tends to overuse the musical montage. If it's done well, I don't have a problem. Williams' big scene uses a song called 'Don't Be Afraid, You're Already Dead' by a group named Akron/Family. It was effective. But to nitpick, notice how Williams moves so his face isn't in the dark towards the end of the scene. I believe they call that 'bad blocking.' But the other one that some may criticize is the dual use of the Queen/Bowie song, Under Pressure. It is used by a student in Williams' class that they try to pass off as an original work, and used in the final scene when Williams tells the truth, in a moment that reminded me of all the times Lisa Simpson tells the truth on 'The Simpsons' and restores the family's personal status quo. If only the script relied on The Simpsons for more inspiration: they work blue, too!
And then of course, there's Bruce Hornsby. He does about as well here as he would have in a similar Adam Sandler comedy.
I think that's about all I had on this, but I will end on a note of praise by talking about the plot. It is a classic comedy setup: Robin Williams is a teacher at the same school as his ultimate nightmare of a son. Now, how does that reflect upon each other? Of course, people forget: Robin's son Kyle did have that one moment of insight about Robin's love interest: Claire, the art teacher. Kyle called her 'a little pretentious,' something like that. Perhaps Kyle will serve as a warning to all parents out there who give unsupervised internet access to their children... perhaps.


-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

No comments: