Tuesday, September 25, 2012

LIE #47: Father Knows Best

World’s Greatest Dad (2009; Bobcat Goldthwaite) is about the venom—making the viewer squirm. But as long as you can appreciate acidic, nasty humor that takes no prisoners, while still delivering maximum laughs, you will enjoy this film and its vicious take on the “sympathy industry.”

In fact, World’s Greatest Dad is much more mean-spirited than Goldthwait’s subsequent God Bless America—at least in that later film, the main character is somewhat sympathetic: he wouldn’t have been driven to mass murder if the stupid, TV-obsessed troglodytes had left him alone.
With World’s Greatest Dad, the main character’s primary driving force is ultimately selfishness.

And to my eyes, it’s as if the director is in the process of dissecting and deconstructing hypocrisy in these United States—I’ve really got to catch up with the rest of the films that Goldthwait has directed!

Goldthwaite uses the viewers’ innate hatred of Robin Williams to good effect, as well—I think the director knows that people with healthy souls avoid RW like the plague.
This film is NOT for people who liked Patch Adams and Jack, nor those who prefer RW’s pitching to the cheap seats and his pursuit of the “family-friendly” mantle.

Everybody Loves You (When You’re Dead)” is a great song by now-gone, but highly recommended NYC noise-rock unit Cop Shoot Cop, and is basically the theme of World’s Greatest Dad.
Kyle is a horrible, awful teenager: lazy, vulgar, willfully stupid, self-centered and, well, vile, his skin greasy and red.
The kid’s obsessed with the grossest kind of pornography, and when he dies during an act of auto-erotic asphyxiation, his milquetoast, “nice guy” schoolteacher dad Robin Williams (who’s also a failed novelist), covers up the embarrassing act.

But rather than leaving it at that, RW writes a moving and philosophical suicide note.
Since no one really knew his creepy and obnoxious brat, everyone begins projecting their own Romanticized visions on the dead boy, and in the process he becomes a kind of folk hero and lightning rod for betterment.
In his “suicide,” this “brave, lost soul” manages to inspire nearly the whole school towards good. People are actually genuinely nicer and more understanding, and empathy returns to the world with strength.

Getting high off the reflected fame and glory, as well as the outpouring of sympathy, Williams “discovers” his son’s journals, which by the way everyone at the school—as well as in the media—reacts, have more insight and knowledge into the human condition than Jung’s Red Book or Tesla’s secret files.

Be that as it may, these “journals” further improve the human condition. It may be built on lies, but it is for the better it seems. But selfish jerks, they always gotta have things their way…

If anything, this is a perfect film for people who’ve always thought RW’s emotionalism was a cheap, obvious, heavy-handed grab for sympathy.
And I believe Goldthwaite thinks that as well, and uses that in creating RW’s character—
In World’s Greatest Dad (currently available from Nexfliz Ztreeming), RW is a faker: he’s really a creep hiding behind a “nice” mask—and towards the end of the film I realized, “Of course his son was so awful: the kid was like his father.”

BTW, Williams’ character, and his desperate (despicable) desire to be “liked” by everyone totally reminded me of a teacher I had in high school. He was one of those mealy-mouthed secret fascists who wanted to be everybody’s “pal.” I couldn’t believe that no one else spoke up about seeing him for what he really was, and I made his life hell by being the rudest, nastiest snottiest kid in the room.
Finally, he begged me not to ever take another class in his department if he bribed me with a passing grade. I accepted. Heh-heh-heh

From Schools to Prisons—the difference is?

Superjail! Season Two (2011; ten episodes; created by Christy Karacas, Stephen Warbrick and Ben Gruber)
Blood-splattered lysergic madness—it’s as if Willy Wonka joined forces with Dr. T  to run a magical, murder palace designed by the crew behind Yellow Submarine, not to mention a heavy influence from Sally Cruikshank—but instead of smoking pot and taking LSD, the artists’ drugs of choice were the much more low-brow and trashier crystal meth and crack cocaine: the antithesis of mellow.

Because each episode is about 10 minutes long, the entire season can be watched like some mega-FUBAR absurdist-nihilistic spoof movie on “children’s programming,” and as such it is perfect for fans of subversive shows like Wonder Showzen, Happy Tree Friends or the Upright Citizens Brigade (and when’s the UCB’s third season coming to DVD, if ever?)—as well as the ultraviolent Dadaist work of Tex Avery when he was directing for MGM.

Superjail!’s second season, though, was much more “plot” driven than the first—not that the tales weren’t bonkers, but there was this adherence to “getting back to the storyline” that kept the proceedings from transmigrating into pure Zen Anarchy.

The first season (from 2008), meanwhile, trended towards hyperactive mandala-like animations of killing and violence that twisted upon themselves and came back again through the other side, and logic be damned! I loved it: It was as if they went through all this trouble just for me.
The second season was still hilarious, but not nearly as mind-shredding in its gory psychedelia.
(However, I am ordering the first season from the library in an effort to see if my memory is correct…)


  1. I knew you'd love it. Another spot on analysis. I dig the idea of Goldthwait using Robin Williams because of his public image. Bobcat is brilliant.

  2. I need to catch up with Bobcat's Sleeping Dogs Lie, and try and rewatch Shakes the Clown (I saw it when it came out and didn't really like it then, but I'm willing to give it another chance).
    BTW, in my post-review R&D, I discovered that Bobcat and RW are friends--and performed together in the "early" days.
    Despite that, I still maintain that Bobcat is very aware of how much people can't stand RW....
    Thanks for commenting!