The intricacy of the father-son relation meets the bitterness of a self-obsessed unrecognized genius: this is what the highly critically acclaimed film “Footnote” comprises. Among myriad of comedic moment of the film, the darkness of ambivalence, the reticent love and affection and the vociferated wrath, all are co-mingled with a touch of distant indifference and that was turned the work from a intense drama set in the world of academics, to a relatable humane effort.
While one cannot fail to notice that the story is full of oxymoronic elements: such as the exposure of rivalry and acerbity amid the pristine-looking whitehead academicians, the envy of the father to his son’s success who to the contrary upholds him as his inspiration; the private disdain confronts the publicly showing affection of the son, never finding the recognition of his own father while the world approves of him; all in all the film is there to stay with its viewer, not to prove a point, not to ram it home with intense drama, but as a bitter-sweet taste that does not go away.
Some films are meant to disturb; some films are so dark that even with a carefree watch it hits with a staggering might; so heavily that a deep impact is left within ourselves. World’s Greatest Dad is such a film. This film was made by Bobcat Goldthwait before he came to prominence with his master-piece dark-comedy “God bless America” and while watching “World’s greatest dad” any viewer would be able to see that this was the inception of Goldthwait’s departure from norm and his declaration of all-out-war against anything that is produced, catered, consumed by the mainstream America. If “God bless America” was a ruthless onslaught upon the media fetishism of the conservative America with all its harangue, bigotry and phoney patriotism, “World’s greatest dad” is about the average America that is hidden under the veil of falsehood and prevarication.
The story of the film is upsetting and novel. Lance, a high school teacher of poetry-classes, a struggling unpublished author and a single father is leading more or less an unwholesome existence. His son, a student of the same school, is dim-witted, unmotivated, eternally-horny typical teenager whose only quality is to obsess over sexual reveries and crude video-games. One night Lance returns home to discover the lifeless body of his son in front of the computer screen, apparently choking himself to death while masturbating and having sexual gratification through self-asphyxiating. Lance did all he can to make things look normal and graceful, writing a suicide note for his son and setting the stage in a way that it looked like his son committed suicide. The tragicomic events take an unexpected turn with the publication of the suicide note and all the fellow students for whom the boy was but invisible since that very moment tried to fabricate him in their own way, turning him into a cult figure pouring sympathy and admiration for Lance, flooding his almost empty class-room. Lance enjoys this initial success, winning back his foxy girl-friend from a co-worker and comes to the brink of winning everything he ever dreamt off when, at the finality of the film, the story takes its final major turn.
In essence, World’s greatest dad is a film on the obsessions of the fragile existence of the middle-class that the sumptuousness and erosion of ideology has borne. The shallowness and stupidity, the emotional distance, the obsessive idolatry of the mainstream were what came under fire in this maverick production from Goldthwait. Robin Williams, in the lead role, packed another power-house performance that would be remembered for a long time. The way he embodies the dark satire that the film intends to carry; the way his laughs are evoked only to conceal the pain, is something worth noting. The laugh that World’s greatest dad intends to conjure is an angry laugh, something very akin to what we experience in the films of Michael Moore. We may brush aside the laughter, but not the searing ire and the scathing look back on the society the film intends.