Directed by: Bob Goldthwait
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Runtime: 99 Minutes
As a modern Robin Williams, starring film, I am impressed with his performance and the film itself is surprisingly entertaining. Although a little beyond reality in terms of its outcome it is partly thought provoking and emotionally rich. It has some comedy elements but mostly it is a drama. Bob Goldthwait, who has previously directed “Scrooged” and Disney’s 2Hercules” has shown some good talent and effort with this films narrative, which makes it an enjoyable film. This could be his best work so far.
Robin Williams is Lance Clayton, a poetry schoolteacher and father to a grouchy, moody, lazy and thoughtless son named Kyle (Daryl Sabara) As hard as Lance tries to connect with his hostile, loathsome son, all he receives for his sincere efforts are insults and scorn. The only things Kyle seems to care about are violent video games and internet porn, the latter obsession eventually serving to alienate the foul-mouthed teen from his sole friend, Andrew (Evan Martin).
His books rejected by publishers and his poetry class on the verge of being cancelled due to student disinterest, Lance does find a bit of happiness in his relationship with pretty art instructor Claire (Alexie Gilmore). Then, one day, Lance discovers his son dead, the apparent victim of autoerotic asphyxiation gone horribly awry. In order to give the boy some dignity in death, Lance pens a suicide note before summoning the authorities. Turns out that word gets out about this suicide note that seems to help people cope with their depression and it seems Kyle’s death is quite popular, beyond anything real.
The thing that makes the film unique is it is an idea that has not quite been done. The chance of something like this happening is near impossible, but it is still interesting to see the events and consequences. The story overall is sweet, often hard-hitting and darkly humorous. the story is very bold and ultimately solid.
Williams was just splendid in this film and may be his best performance in a while. He took on the role of the unappreciated creative writing Lance like a saint. Williams is a well-respected actor in this day and age and he has my respect for some good performances over the years. You can have plenty of heart towards Lance, whether its sympathy, empathy or even pity, which boosts this films strength.
*Spoiler in this paragraph* the film ends beautifully as the secret is let out and through some well-planned shots, we see Lance running through the school corridors to the pool, in a sign of freedom. He then goes to the diving board and dives in butt naked in something that seems like his way of freedom. That was an excellent piece of cine-magic surely.
The only thing that brings the film down is how foolish the idea is of all the consequence, but it is still a magical kind of film. It explores suicide and posthumous celebrity fame, making it a different kind of comedy film you would expect. Mostly it is a drama though. Overall with a tragedy mixed in, a solid story with refreshing performances, the film is worth watching.
My Rating: 7.5/10