In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb cold war poster

Cold War

An aching film on such exquisite pains of impossible love, Paweł Pawlikowski’s Cold War concurrently swells your heart and breaks it.

Thumb house jack

The House That Jack Built

Ultimately, it’s more of an inconsistent cry into the void than the conversation starter it could have been.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb tvovw7qjj63zbqw5tz8cjpthaud

Schindler's List

This was published on June 24th, 2001, and we are republishing it in honor of the film's 25th anniversary rerelease."Schindler's List" is described as a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

Reviews

Father of the Year

Father of the Year Movie Review
  |  

The arrangement between Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison and Netflix keeps rolling, resulting in this week’s “Father of the Year,” the kind of quickie comedy project that was clearly conceived, executed, and released in an incredibly small window of time. It’s not as abrasively awful as the worst of Netflix/Madison projects (“The Ridiculous Six” still holds the standard), it’s just forgettable. It’s akin to a mediocre sitcom you might catch on network TV on a Monday night. You won't hate the experience of watching it, but you’ll forget you saw it before it’s even over.

Advertisement

David Spade does what is basically a riff on his Joe Dirt character as a hard-drinking, not-too-bright guy named Wayne, father to a sweet kid named Ben (Joey Bragg). Ben has come home with his best buddy Larry (Matt Shively) and the two young men have one of those drunken conversations about whose dad would win in a fist fight. Larry’s dad Mardy (Nat Faxon) is the polar opposite of Wayne—he's a scientist who is so meek that he’s being bullied by his own eight-year-old. So it’s either the guy so dumb that he builds a makeshift pool in the flatbed of his neighbor’s truck or the one being owned by a third grader. When Wayne hears word that the guys think Mardy is the likely winner, he takes it as a personal affront and challenges the father of his son’s BFF to an actual fight. It doesn’t go well.

If you’re wondering how on Earth two dads maybe fighting each other could sustain the plot of a film, you're already asking more pertinent questions than the filmmakers. There are other subplots, of course, including a potential relationship between Ben and a girl from his past named Meredith (Bridget Mendler) and the fact that the fracas between Wayne and Mardy might cost Ben his future. For the most part, however, the plot here is just one of those Happy Madison skeletons on which to hang bits such as Wayne and Ben participating in a weird local “Wife Race” and Mardy getting high and begging the dealer to take off his clothes (don’t ask … it’s a really weird scene, even for Happy Madison).

To be fair, there are a few funny moments scattered throughout “Father of the Year,” and some of the performers here are undeniably likable. The young actors, particularly Mendler and Shively, could easily work in better material, and I’ve always liked Faxon—the idea to contrast his more buttoned-up comic timing with Spade’s anything-for-a-joke aesthetic isn’t a bad one. It’s just that this is another one of those Happy Madison movies that doesn’t put any effort in after the clever idea was greenlit. You can always picture someone saying, “Just put Faxon and Spade in the movie and it will write itself.” And that’s how you get to so many scenes that feel lazy and jokes that simply haven’t been punched up. It’s just too lazy to work. 

Advertisement

And yet people will probably watch it. Spade was on Howard Stern this week talking about how many people watched “The Do-Over,” and the excellent interview got me hoping again that perhaps this would be the Netflix/Madison project to finally work, the one that could make this whole collaboration worthwhile. That’s one of the reasons that I keep coming back to these movies (I’ve reviewed all five so far) and, believe it or not, I still hope every time that this one will finally be a diversion I can recommend to just get away from the real world for an hour or two. It’s not my fault they keep letting me down.

Popular Blog Posts

The Ten Best Films of 2018

The staff choices for the best films of 2018.

The Baffling Failure of Fallout 76

A review of Fallout 76.

Glenn Kenny's Top Ten Films of 2018

The ten best films of 2018, according to Glenn Kenny.

My problem with "Blue Velvet"

If you want to understand David Lynch, maybe the place to start is with his paintings. He paints in a style he descri...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus