Robin Williams is in top form as the 'World's Greatest Dad' to someone who is easily the world's most repugnant and vile son. He proves once again that he's an excellent actor when given good dramatic material and with the right person behind the camera. In Bobcat Goldthwait's pensively contemplative and shockingly offensive film, he learns that the best intentions can expose the worst in others, and that feeling lonely is not exactly the same as actually being alone. The dark comedy is the pleasant surprise of the year from the writer and director best known as the rabid, high-energy lunatic of 'The Police Academy' franchise.
Lance Clayton (Williams) dreams of one day becoming a rich and famous author, a writer who captures the human spirit in beautiful and touching prose. Only problem is that he has more rejection letters than published books. To make a living, the single father works as the poetry teacher at the same high school his foulmouthed son Kyle (Daryl Sabara, 'Spy Kids') attends. There, too, he receives little attention from his secret girlfriend, fellow teacher Claire (Alexie Gilmore), and even less appreciation by the faculty or students. But one fatal incident involving his depraved son gives Lance the opportunity to finally become the famed author he had always hoped to be.
Unfortunately, his attempts to save his son from embarrassment lead to an unexpected cultish frenzy surrounding a faux tragedy, one created for the veneration of the most hated person on campus. Lance feeds the masses false truths and the deluded inventions of an imaginary son and peer. It's an obvious commentary on modern society's posthumous idolization of celebrities, our willingness to exchange the realities of one's life for the more romantic ideal. But the truth is that Kyle was an absolutely despicable and loathsome sexist pig and the worst possible child imaginable. He is a boy who actually pushes the boundaries of sane perversity - if that's even possible.
Nonetheless, girls wear a goofy-looking photo of Kyle on button pins while a jock claims to have been the best of pals in secret. Suddenly, the entire student body finds the courage to open and express themselves without fear of reprisal thanks to Kyle masking his more intellectual side. Even Lance's girlfriend now finds the would-be writer more fascinating than the once-popular, charming English teacher Mike Lane (Henry Simmons). Where the film really comes to a poetic crescendo is in Lance accepting all the admiration and realizing a regrettable truth of human behavior when surrounded by death and grief.
Writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait does a superb job keeping his intentions well under control, like a slow-burning fuse that explodes with David Bowie & Queen's "Under Pressure". Other than the revelation of seeing the wildly-eccentric and high-pitched comedian create such a poignant film are the performances of Williams and Sabara. They both play off each other in perfect harmony and sequence, and the film simply wouldn't have worked without Sabara's disturbing abrasiveness. 'World's Greatest Dad' is a terrific and hilarious surprise.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This Blu-ray edition of 'World's Greatest Dad' comes courtesy of Magnolia Home Entertainment in the standard keepcase and a very simple cover design featuring Robin Williams wearing a robe.
'World's Greatest Dad' debuts onto Blu-ray with a strong and clean video presentation that is sure to make fans happy. The blemish-free VC-1 encode (1.85:1) may not be up to the level of demo material, but it possess a very attractive film-like appearance with solid contrast levels and pleasing dimension. While blacks are often deep and stable, shadows take nothing away from the image, offering plenty of perceptibility in low-lit sequences. Clarity and detail are also resounding and sharp, with background objects clearly visible and well-defined from beginning to end. Facial complexions exhibit a natural, healthy warmth and good texture. The color palette is the transfer's best feature, providing the picture with bold, vibrant primaries and a wonderful variety of well-rendered hues. Overall, it's very good presentation and one sure to be enjoyed by most.
Accompanying the video is a welcoming DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack which complements the film's dark tone nicely. Dialogue and character interaction is vital for a film of this genre, and the front-heavy mix delivers every utterance with perfect clarity and emotional impact. The other two channels exhibit clean fidelity and balance while dynamics and acoustics offer fine room penetration and definition. There's not much in the sound design for surround activity, but atmospherics are put to good use, lightly filling the rear speakers just enough to open up the soundfield and create decent ambiance. The music really does a better job of enveloping the listening area, and low-frequency bass is mostly reserved for those moments, adding some good depth. As with the picture quality, this lossless track may not be reference level, but for a dark comedy, the high-res mix is more than satisfying.
Magnolia Home Entertainment releases this Blu-ray edition with a decent number of special features. There's nothing really exciting about the package, but it's enough to give fans a bit more of a backstory into the production.
'World's Greatest Dad' is this year's best surprise, featuring splendid and convincing performances from Robin Williams and Daryl Sabara. Bobcat Goldthwait's black comedy is a hilarious and darkly cynical look at the varying ways in which we confront death. This Blu-ray release from Magnolia Home Entertainment arrives with a strong Audio/Video presentation and a decent but small package of supplements. Fans will not be disappointed by the purchase while everyone else is encouraged to watch this very dark and funny flick. Recommended.