'World's Greatest Dad'


Robin Williams leaps off a high dive in the nude at the end of "World's Greatest Dad." Not an inspiring sight. That's an apt metaphor for what he has done professionally in this dunderheaded delirium from writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait.

It's definitely the sophomore jinx for Goldthwait, whose previous Sundancer, "Sleeping Dogs Lie," was an uproarious and audacious romantic comedy with bestiality. In this second coming, the protagonist's son dies while masturbating, wonderfully appropriate for the creative onanism on display.

On the upside, there are intermittent hilarities, and if the film's delegation, which attended this premiere, can descend on all public showings to serve as a raucous laugh track, "Dad" should someday achieve cult status.

Williams unfortunately displays his incredible range here: He once played a poetry teacher ("Dead Poets Society") and reached a pinnacle in his outstanding career, and now he again plays a poetry teacher and notches a career nadir.

In "Dad," Williams slumps along as aspiring novelist Lance, whose lifetime output has generated only rejection slips. He toils as an uninspired poetry teacher and a dottering single dad. He shares a tiny abode with his loathsome teenage son, Kyle (Daryl Sabara), an obnoxious creep who annoys everyone. The kid's only enthusiasm is German porn and masturbation. For recreation, Lance doesn't do a lot: He slogs away in a clandestine affair with a colleague (Alexie Gilmore), a fickle ninny who won't date him publicly.

Going limp with his gaggery, Goldthwait kills off the kid halfway through — a great relief to everyone. We're glad he's gone, but — paging Dr. House — how exactly does a teenager die while masturbating in his desk chair? Incredibly, Lance turns his son's death into a revival of his failed literary career, a modestly inspired dark irony in this otherwise dimwitted ditty.

Under Goldthwait's heavy comic hand, technical contributions are pitched to the broadest reaches. Highest praise goes to cinematographer Horacio Marquinez, whose dim lighting manages to obscure many of "Dad's" home scenes.