World’s Greatest Dad (2009) – By Kirsten Walsh

In the past several years, Bobcat Goldthwait has managed to reinvent himself as an incredibly talented writer and director. His eccentric humor, seen in his stand up comedy of the late 80’s and early 90’s, have grown and matured into a demented look on reality, shown in his films. Starting with “Sleeping Dogs Lie” (2006), Bobcat established his films as living in a twisted world- the world of today.

In 2009, Robin Williams had a slew of comedies and animated films released, most of which came out to a variety of critical reviews. But then there was “World’s Greatest Dad”- a fairly quietly released film that has a unique story and a dark overtone, that has been able to mainstay the test of time (granted, only 5 years). The story follows Williams as a lackluster poetry teacher (throwback to Dead Poets Society anyone?) who is a single father with a teenage son (played by a disturbingly funny Daryl Sabara). The story does drag as we establish Williams as the underdog of the film, constantly in competition with other teachers, living a lonely existence with a girlfriend who is not really there emotionally. He teaches at the same school that his sexually motivated son attends, and dates another one of the teachers there, hiding their relationship from the students.

In a tragic move that really triggers the rest of the film, his son accidentally kills himself, and Williams is left attempting to cover up the reason of the real suicide. He writes a suicide note, and suddenly finds himself at the middle of a hurricane of attention and sympathy, as everyone he knows clamors due to the letter.

The story, of course, has a rocky rollercoaster of ups and downs, and it becomes a film that leaves the viewer so lost and confused- emotionally- at the end. Williams does an impeccable job as he rolls through the emotional steps of death, hiding his lies and truths from the other players in the film. Goldthwait really makes the viewer an accomplice to the whole shenanigan, breaking the fourth wall in a musical montage that is in a dreamlike state. The music in this film really adds to the overall movement. From “Don’t be afraid, You’re already dead” to “Under Pressure”, the music evocates an emotion of its own in the film, and aides in the smooth transitions.

But the real champion of this film is in the writing. Goldthwait shows that he has not lost that comedic age which made him one of the most memorable comedians in the early 90’s. The overexaggerated, dry wit that exudes from Williams lips is incredibly humorous and sad, but walking that line seems to be Goldthwait’s strength. Of course, the film carries the flair of an art film and the subject matter of most taboos out there, but once again, that walks that fence line that defines this film.

The film can be found on Netflix and on various media platforms as well as on DVD.