Fathers' Day

USA - 1997

Movie Review By Andrea Chase

Late into "Fathers' Day," and long after any hope of it not being a complete waste of time has evaporated, someone says that it takes years of concentrated ineptitude to be a complete loser. Like everything else, this picture got that wrong, too. It took less than two hours to achieve complete loserdom. And when you consider that it was based on a darn fine French flick, "Les Comperes," the magnitude of that loserdom becomes awe-inspiring.

Here's the premise. When her sixteen-year-old son runs away from home, Nastassja Kinski, whose dark roots should have been touched up before filming, enlists two old boyfriends, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal, to track the boy down. To insure that they'll help, she tells each of them that he's his father. Since her husband, who already labors under the delusion of paternity, isn't interested in finding the boy, Kinski's reasoning here is spurious at best. Would that this were the lamest plot point.

When Williams, the failed, neurotic writer, and Crystal, the hopelessly uptight lawyer, finally find the kid, he has a perfectly reasonable reaction. He runs like heck. Undaunted, the pair then run him over with a late model sedan, whereupon he bonds with them. Am I the only one missing the family values message here?

The jokes, and I use that term loosely, fall into two categories: lame and mean-spirited. They also date back to the last ice age. It's an indictment of the writing, another term I use loosely, that Williams and Crystal can't eke out even one guffaw with the material they're given. Here's my take on this, and I had plenty of time to ponder the problem as I desperately waited to be entertained. A bad script made it to pre-production on the assumption that all that was needed to insure a hit was a running port-o-pottie joke and the chemistry that Williams and Crystal would surely generate. It's a fair assumption and one that, before this, I would have bet money on.

My biggest complaint about "Father's Day" is that these two would probably be very funny together given an even halfway decent script to work with. Williams' manic energy ought to be an exquisite foil for Crystal's smart-aleck slow burn. After this, though, why would they, or we, want to take the chance?

© 1997 Andrea Chase Air Date: 5/21/97

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