Sundance Movie Review: World’s Greatest Dad

Bob Goldthwait‘s 2006 film Sleeping Dogs Lie (originally titled “Stay”) was about a relationship that is destroyed when a guy’s girlfriend reveals a past indiscretion (read: blowjob) with a dog. Believe it or not, Goldthwait’s 2009 follow-up is at least 10 times more twisted and probably 20 times funnier. The film seems to be unofficially inspired by Chuck Palahniuk‘s infamous short story Guts and the A Million Little Pieces fiasco.

Robin Williams plays Lance Clayton, an aspiring writer / working high school English teacher who discovers his unlikable loser loner son (Daryl Sabara) dead of autoerotic exfixiation. To explain what happens next, let me include an excerpt from Palahniuk’s Guts:

“Looking back, kid-psych experts, school counselors now say that most of the last peak in teen suicide was kids trying to choke while they beat off. Their folks would find them, a towel twisted around the kid’s neck, the towel tied to the rod in their bedroom closet, the kid dead. Dead sperm everywhere. Of course the folks cleaned up. They put some pants on their kid. They made it look… better. Intentional at least. The regular kind of sad, teen suicide.”

World’s Greatest Dad takes the idea one step further, with Lance penning a suicide note for his son. The note gets leaked to the high school newspaper, and Kyle becomes a local sensation, in an exaggerated example of the glorification of the dead. A series of events results in Lance writing Kyle’s posthumous autobiography. Filled with double entendres, painfully funny laugh out loud moments and a dark story that approaches Palahniuk’s sick and twisted humor. The film also features The Alamo Drafthouse’s Tyler Stout poster for The Thing, a 2001 t-shirt, and a conversation about the speed of zombies where Robin Williams quotes and namechecks Simon Pegg.

I felt that Sabara’s performance was a bit over the top, and some of the sequences were a bit on the nose, which leads to unintentional funny (or at least I think it was unintentional). But either way, funny is funny, and World’s Greatest Dad is one of the funniest films I’ve seen so far at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

/Film Rating: 8 out of 10

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