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World's Greatest Dad

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I really enjoyed the first half-hour of Worlds Greatest Dad. The dialogue between the father and son was unflatteringly accurate, as frustrated family members will sometimes speak horribly to each other and this kid (played by Spy Kids alum Daryl Sabara) lives in a constant state of frustration. I had to pause the movie, however, after Robin Williams’ character discovers the body of his teenage son, dead from auto-erotic asphyxiation. My sister, who was watching with me, went from enjoying the film to sobbing during this scene and I needed to put on something happy for a while. Almost a decade ago one of our extended family members lost his 15-year-old stepson that way and this part of the script, too, was unflatteringly accurate. I returned to the movie a few hours later and watched the rest of it alone. Just like with my little cousin, first there is talk that he hung himself, but that doesn’t make sense to anyone who knows him, and eventually the truth behind the tragedy comes out.

In playing Lance, the dad in World’s Greatest Dad, Robin Williams gives one of his most powerful performances. It’s tragic, heartbreaking and yet somehow still comedic. Lance is a writer who has never been published. When he types out a suicide note to cover up the actual cause of his son’s accidental death, it sets into motion a cycle of lying that brings him much of the success and adoration he’s always craved. He eventually ends up on an Oprah-type talk show and almost breaks down laughing at his A Million Little Pieces scandal worthy situation. Just imagine if John Kennedy Toole’s mother had actually written A Confederacy of Dunces. Is it so wrong to want your son remembered for something more than the final tragic moment of his life? Is it wrong to believe that’s really your motivation?