Going into World’s Greatest Dad, you’d think it would be some zany movie in which Robin Williams plays a single father who must deal with his wayward son. This isn’t an update of the silly comedy Superdad staring Bob Crane. It’s a comedy. It’s just not the type of comedy you’d think.
Lance Clayton (Williams) is an English teacher at a high school in the Pacific Northwest where he also teaches a poetry class that doesn’t have many students and is in danger of being dropped by the administration. He’s dating a fellow teacher, Claire Reed (Alexie Gilmore), but they keep it as secret as they can. And Claire is getting too close to fellow teacher Mike Lane (Henry Simmons) to the point it’s causing friction in their relationship.
He also has an awful son, Kyle (Daryl Sabara) who only has one friend, Andrew Troutman (Evan Martin) whose mother is an alcoholic. Kyle is obsessed with sex, to the point that he even tries autoerotic asphyxiation. He’s also doesn’t matter telling anyone at school what he thinks, especially if it’s sexual or graphic in nature, and even treats Lance like garbage. After a dinner date with Claire and Kyle, where he was taking pics up her dress, Lance takes Claire home but they don’t do anything just tease each other.
When Lance returns home, he walks in on Kyle thinking he was masturbating but when he doesn’t hear Kyle hurl an insult at him, he realizes that Kyle has killed himself. Rather than immediately call 911 and making Kyle’s death more of an embarrassment, Lance deletes any of the sexual pics from Kyle’s phone. He types out a sucide letter and puts in in Kyle’s shirt pocket. He then makes it appear Kyle committed suicide by hanging him in the closet.
Back at school following an absence, Lance feels more isolated than before as people give him odd looks in the halls. That is until the suicide letter is discovered in the police report by the student newspaper who publish it. Now, the students and staff show sympathy and love for Lance and Kyle. They all hated Kyle and didn’t care for Lance but they’re acting like they just didn’t understand what was going on.
Lance then spends a weekend making it appear Kyle kept a journal that he gives to the school counselor who quickly publish it as the students and staff read it up. Suddenly, they’re debating among each other who loved Kyle more, even at one point, two young women are fighting over a Bruce Hornsby CD that Lance tells them was Kyle’s favorite singer. It was actually Lance’s. Suddenly, Kyle is a local celebrity and Lance is enjoying that his writing is finally being appreciated.
Lance has been trying unsuccessfully for years to get his manuscripts published. He’s been tossing them in the trash only to be read by his friendly neighbor, Bonnie McBon (Mitzi McCall), who is a hoarder. Kyle would also try to spy on Bonnie as she would undress. As the journal becomes more and more popular, Claire becomes more interested in Lance, much to the chagrin of Mike. During an awkward sex scene between Lance and Claire, she looks at Kyle’s picture on the night stand throughout everything.
However, Andrew becomes suspicious as he was really the only one who knew Kyle and doesn’t believe he wrote either the suicide not or journal. In the end, Lance is appearing on TV shows and the school decides to rename the library in Kyle’s honor as the walls are filled with banners showing love for Kyle. But Lance soon realizes that it’s all for show and wrong. But can he tell the truth or continue the charade?
Written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait (who appears in a small scene as a limo driver), the movie was released in 2009, less than two months after the death of Michael Jackson. And some critics drew comparisions as people were willing to overlook all the child sex abuse claims (and they still do) against Jackson in favor of his music and untimely death. Look at how people acted with Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush died even though their administrations were constantly ripe with scandals.
We’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but it seems too often, we shouldn’t overlook people who did really bad things. No one was really weeping with Osama bin Ladin or Saddam Hussein were killed. But I’ve noticed that people are often making it appear that they are more hurt and in mourning following the death of someone than they really are just so they’ll get attention. Also, World’s Greatest Dad premiered during the explosion of social media (with Facebook, Twitter and MySpace) where people usually make posts for “prayer warriors” or posts of themselves at the hospital, but yet won’t tell you what is going on.
This movie would also come under the spotlight in 2014 following Wiliams’ death as it drew similarities. However, it was later discovered that Williams had Lewy body dementia and it probably contributed to his death and he wasn’t in his right mind. But you shouldn’t let the eerie coincidence stop you from watching this. It’s not for everyone but it does tell a hard truth about ourselves.
What do you think? Please comment.