A mild-mannered dad parents his misogynist douchebag of a son.
Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait
Starring Robin Williams and Daryl Sabara
Initial Review by Shane Setnor
During my junior year of high school my friend and classmate, Brandon, shot himself in the head in his ex-girlfriend’s backyard. This was the first time someone I knew (outside of a grandparent) had died. I had no idea how to react or what to do. I just worked the rest of my shift at a local Subway in dismay.
That day, my buddy and my brother picked me up from my shift, I told them about what Brandon did. (This was before texting and everyone having cell phones, so sometimes it took days for news to spread. Crazy.) For some reason, I felt myself smiling as I was telling them. I have no idea why I reacted this way. I knew the moment was big and I was supposed to be solemn, but I think I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation.
I even recall sitting in the locker-room after gym class, staring at Brandon’s locked and his spot on the bench. I remember a sophomore kid just casually sitting in that spot like it was nothing. As if Brandon never existed. In my mind, that spot should have been respected and revered. I remember thinking, “Well, it’s just a dirty ass bench in a high school locker room. Why should it be respected just because someone who is now dead sat on it?”
That’s when everything started to unravel for me.
Was I even Brandon’s friend?
We played basketball together, but only because we had a mutual friend. I remember talking with him about No Limit albums, but I doubt I ever had an in-depth conversation with him. He ws in to partying and grew up in a rough household, which resulted in him being somewhat of a bully, even if he was likable (so long as you weren’t his target).Was I invested in him as a person or was I invested in the situation and a chance to be a part of something huge?
When it came time for the funeral, despite the giant Catholic Church being full of hormonal high schoolers,I remember one kid being there. He was one of the victims of Brandon’s bullying. The kid for some reason liked provoking Brandon. Maybe he was just sticking up for himself, but the provocation resulted in Brandon kindly asking the kid to give him his seeing glasses so Brandon could punch him in the face. The kid obliged and Brandon punched him in the face. As I said before, he was a lkable bully and I consider that a classy bully move.
Someone said that the kid was there out of spite. As a fuck you to Brandon. But that just wasn’t it. That kid was part of the mourning now. To be a part of it, he was now convinced that the guy who tormented him was his friend. Brandon dying had caused the kid to whitewash his own personal history.
I don’t know why this happens. Why we whitewash the dead. Maybe it’s because we’re terrified of death and deep down, we’re all superstitious natives. As if talking ill of the dead leaves us open to divine retribution. Or maybe we’re so damn afraid of our own mortality that we retreat into being polite beings afraid to make a ripple. Or maybe it’s our own ego, trying to insert ourselves into a greater role in someone else’s life.
I don’t know why it happens, but I do know that World’s Greatest Dad perfectly captured this reaction. Bobcat Goldthwait’s script shows the absurdity of how we react to death. It shows that we’re all paying service to ourselves rather than the person who died.
Most importantly, through Robin Williams’s mourning father figure, it shows that we lose our own humanity when we allow others to steal away the experiences and personality of someone who has recently died. His character liberates us from white washing the dead. He lets us know it’s OK to have loved a douchebag. To love someone despite their atrocious character traits. To some extent, he’s giving us permission to forgive ourselves for being douchebags as well.
In the end, this script deserved better from Goldthwait the Director. Some soundtrack was distractingly bad and some of the performances were wanting, but not so much so that it ruins one of the darkest comedies I’ve ever seen.