A blog about movies and filmmaking.

Why are my favorite Robin Williams movies the ones where he flashes his junk?

In comedy on September 5, 2009 at 1:36 am

So, on what’s considered the official last weekend of the summer – although, as previously posted, mines been over for a couple weeks now – there’s a big, loud stupid movie premiering (GAMER). Which I saw, thought that it was fun, but in no way a good movie – I’ll now reserve any viewings of a Neveldine/Taylor movie strictly to DVD, if I watch them at all. (I’ve still not watched either of the CRANK movies.) I’m assuming, and fine with, it making tons of money this weekend, and for a few minutes I thought that there was going to be a turn in the plot that would redeem the movie (other than seeing Amber Valletta in clothes so tight and short, that she might as well be naked), but that moment never came. Instead it just turned dumber, and in lieu of any kind of actual resolution, we just get a big 8-bit “GAME OVER” at the end. (Suitably, I will admit.)

So, afterwards, I figured I’d watch something else and remembered that the new Bobcat Goldthwait movie, WORLD’S GREATEST DAD was available on On Demand. So, there we go. I liked Bobcat’s previous writing/directing effort, SLEEPING DOGS LIE (or STAY, as it was also called); where a woman who performs a random and of the moment faux pas, with her pet dog leads to her life being turned upside down when she jokingly mentions it to her fiancee. It’s not the greatest movie ever made, it’s just barely competently made – apparently Goldthwait got his crew via a Craigslist posting asking for anyone that wanted to make a movie for free – but it had a heart to it, that made it above what the movie should have been.

After seeing DAD, it made me think of my other favorite movie starring Robin Williams, THE FISHER KING. The movie directed by Terry Gilliam, starring Jeff Bridges, Mercedes Ruehl and Amanda Plummer, featured Williams as a homeless man who had suffered a tragedy that left him mentally unstable and imagining that he saw fat floating people who had given him a quest for the Holy Grail. Bridges plays a disc jockey, sort of in the vein of Howard Stern, and he finds out he played a small, but pivotal part in the tragedy that befell Williams character, Perry.

Anyway, to get back on topic, what these movies have in common – which, thinking about them, there’s a lot more than I originally had conceived of – is both feature Williams releasing setting himself free, via stripping buck naked. In KING, it’s to then lay naked in Central Park, “cloud busting”, and in DAD, jumping into a swimming pool. So, well, that’s where the title of this post comes from – deep, I know.

WORLD’S GREATEST DAD starts off introducing us, via narration, to Lance Clayton (Williams) who is an aspiring writer. He’s written dozens of books, plays and short stories only to have none of them published. We meet his son, Kyle (played by Daryl Sabara), who is a mean-spirited, sexually outspoken (if inexperienced) pervert that enjoys German shit porn, watching the old lady next door get undressed and a variety of other impolite things. Kyle, hates everything, calls everyone and everything “fags” and his only pleasure in life seems to be computer games and acting like an asshole. So, after an unfortunate accident, Lance is left with trying to untangle a mess and winds up turning his son, sort of into a school hero.

This leads Lance not only to become popular at school – even if it is people using him to try and get closer to Kyle – but also gets him on TV, gets a book bought and published; but in the end, it’s all hollow and too much to take as Lance realizes that he’s living a lie. He reveals the truth and faces the consequences, which might actually leave him happier than he was before. He , at the end of the movie, even has sort of a better family situation.

Williams does a great job in the movie. Being very subdued and only letting his wit fly at certain moments – like in his poetry class, after a student gives a revolutionary-“black power” sort of speech, he asks if anyone else has a haiku. Which could have been scripted, but played as a Williams riff. In one of two of the most dramatic scenes, his cries are completely soundless as we are given a weird, pop song instead; but the pain seems real and we feel for Lance. The other, when he’s on a TV show trying to speak about his son – and is hit with the realization of how wrong this all is – as he’s trying to be heart-rending and stoic, he starts to laugh and can’t control himself.

Kyle, the son that builds such a strong – if incredibly unsympathetic – character, as played by Sabara, is offensive and pretty hilarious. If he cut back on the “brown eye” talk, I could see his angry persona eventually turning into the eternally dour Walt Kowalski in Clint Eastwood’s GRAN TORINO (no, I’m not comparing the movies – but Clint’s performance had the same kind of real, yet cartoonishly offensiveness, that we also get from Kyle). He’s a kid that I could imagine wanting to punch in the face repeatedly, and at the same time, know that really there’s just something deeply wrong with him.

The rest of the cast is a mix of smaller actors who haven’t done too much (Alexie Gilmore, Henry Simmons and Evan Martin) who all do fine jobs in their roles; then there’s the stable of actors, comedians and friends that Goldthwait has used in his previous movie (Morgan Murphy), or starred along with on previous projects (Geoffrey Pierson, in the fun show UNHAPPILY EVER AFTER – which was the show that also gave us Nikki Cox…FYI.) and even Bruce Hornsby.

The movie, also features a twist, or plot development, (the aforementioned accident) that has been up for debate as to whether it’s a spoiler or not. I didn’t include anything that I think betrays what happens (much), but I honestly don’t know that it’d really affect anyone seeing the movie who knows what happens. Plus, we’re given a number of clues hinting at it at the beginning of the movie…Oh, I might have said too much. WORLD’S GREATEST DAD is available to watch, in some theaters and also on On Demand on cable. It’s a fun movie and worth a watch.

Just to talk a little more about THE FISHER KING for a moment – a classic, and one of Terry Gilliam’s underrated classics – Williams is spectacular in his role as Perry, the medieval knight/homeless crazy person. It was nominated – rightfully, if under-represented, in my opinion in the larger categories – for five Oscars (a win for Ruehl in her role as Anne, a video store owner who takes in Bridges’ character at his lowest.) including one for Williams. (His third nomination, and the last one before he actually won for GOOD WILL HUNTING.)

There’s a magic to the movie, whether it’s Perry’s flights of fantasy – again, see the fat flying people comment – or hallucinations, including a large red, fire-breathing knight on a horse that follows him and keeps Perry from capturing the grail. There’s also the amazing scene in Grand Central Station, where while following the woman he’s secretly in love with (Plummer), the entire place erupts into a ballroom dance, featuring nuns dancing with business men and Perry working his way through the crowd. There’s also great cameos by fun actors/performers such as Kathy Najimy (hilarious moment), Tom Waits, David Hyde-Pierce, Harry Shearer and Michael Jeter.

It’s one of my all-time favorite movies, and deserves to be seen by more people. As it was one of the three movies that Gilliam made during the nineties (the others being the amazing sci-fi movie TWELVE MONKEYS, and the trippy mindfuck that is Hunter S. Thompson’s FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS. of course featuring Johnny Depp as Hunter himself), that showed him and his incredible talents at their peak.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s