When the guy who played Mork from Ork strips down to his shaved nakedness and exposes his Little Nanu Nanu, or the guy who played Sheriff Andy Taylor and Benjamin Matlock gets head from the woman who played Seinfeld's mom, it can mean only one thing.
You're not in TV Land anymore.
Robin Williams stars as a high school poetry teacher in the deliciously twisted World's Greatest Dad. But no one will be confusing his Lance Clayton with his John Keating of Dead Poet's Society. After all, World's Greatest Dad comes from the same mind that created 1991's Shakes the Clown, which was (in)famously hailed as "the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies."
No, Lance does not exactly inspire his students to seize the day in writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait's film. Lance inspires himself to ghostwrite his dead son's final letter. Given the chain-of-events that follow, you can't really blame daddy.
Goldthwait smartly shows how others hypocritically deify even the most repugnant of the deceased and create non-existent connections with said cads to fill their own empty lives with purpose. If that sounds far fetched, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, may I present Michael Jackson?
Be warned that thoughts of "What kind of indie crap am I watching?" may fill your head during the first several minutes of World's Greatest Dad. The film takes its time getting to the dark incident that changes everything. Just go with it, for once the story and Williams' refreshingly deadpan performance kick it up a notch, you'll be glued to your seat waiting for the scene you know is coming even if you secretly wish it would not. And, no, that's not a reference to the one where Mork is naked, although it does prove some assholes are better left unexposed.
Andy Griffith sort of resurrected his illustrious acting career with a nice turn in Waitress, and he seems ready, willing and able to deliver more of the same in Play the Game. Unfortunately, first-time feature writer-director Marc Feinberg and leading man Paul Campbell are not up to the task.
Campbell plays car salesman David Mitchell, who believes himself to be such a ladies man that he can teach his old Grandpa Joe (Griffith) new tricks that will land the widower a companion. But along the way, David falls hard for the seemingly unattainable woman of his dreams, while the reinvigorated Gramps gets serviced by the aforementioned Liz Sheridan and takes a run at Everybody Loves Raymond's Doris Roberts.
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Set your TiVo for . . . WTF?
Actually, Griffith and his golden girls are a hoot, and it's a kick seeing Ron Howard's brother Clint and dad Rance in small parts without Op' in the director's chair for a change. But it is Campbell who has to keep this sucker afloat, and he acts like you read the eye chart at the DMV. That could just as easily be Feinberg's fault for casting and/or preparing the actor, so let's just be fair and blame them both.
It's too bad because it was a nice premise and the filmmaker had an otherwise game cast to play with.
WORLD'S GREATEST DAD IS NOW PLAYING AT REGENCY SOUTH COAST VILLAGE, SANTA ANA. PLAY THE GAME IS AT THAT THEATER AND EDWARDS WESTPARK CINEMA, IRVINE.