Monday, July 23, 2018

Review: "Father of the Year" is a sometimes funny, mostly weird movie.

Father of the Year Review

I'm not sure what all entails of Adam Sandler's deal with Netflix. I know he is starring in a certain amount of movies for the streaming service. But I didn't realize that his production company, Happy Madison, would be producing movies for the service either. "Father of the Year" is a recent addition to the streaming service. It does not star Adam Sandler, but it stars one of his best buddies David Spade. When this Adam Sandler Netflix revolution began, it seemed like it was going to be a big endeavor of the obvious. It looked like it was going to be Sandler doing his similar shlock with no shame. His two recent movies though, showed some slight progress for the actor. Its funny to note that while he somewhat begins to grow in this late stage in his career, his buddies stay rooted in the same spot. Well, some of his friends at least.

In "Father of the Year" David Spade plays Wayne. But honestly, there isn't a huge difference between Wayne and say, Joe Dirt, or Dickie Roberts, or Marcus Higgins. Wayne is a loser slacker who doesn't want any type of responsibility, a shell of a man he once was. If he ever was a real man at all. We know that his wife passed away at some point, but that's never given much development, so its a story thread left hanging. Wayne has a son named Ben, played by Joey Bragg. He was the valedictorian of his college, and he's all set to move to New York City for his big boy job out of college. He's home for the summer to have one last ho-ray before entering the adult world.

So of course something terrible happens. This is a Happy Madison production, so of course something bad is going to happen. Some bar talk becomes real, as Ben discusses with his friend Larry, played by Matt Shively. They have a conversation about which of their dads could kick the other's ass. Larry's dad is Mardy, played by Nat Faxon, a timid man who has been playing things safe his whole life. He doesn't want an altercation. But Wayne finds out about the conversation, gets drunk, and tries to fight Mardy. The two end up on the roof of Mardy's house. When Ben tries to stop his dad, they both fall off the roof and onto Mardy's neighbor's greenhouse. The neighbors will press charges, unless Ben installs a swimming pool. So Ben gets to work, losing his job due to his overnight prison stay.

These are certainly funny situations, and there are several other funny situations over the course of the film. I'd be lying if I said I didn't laugh, I totally laughed. I laughed until I cried at some points. I laughed until my stomach hurt at other points. There are moments so funny I rewound and watched them a couple times before proceeding. The movie has its charms, no doubt about it. It's just structured in a really weird way. The need to build the swimming pool and try to buy back his job stays consistent. Ben's fling with a long lost love interest remains persistent. But Ben building a relationship with his estranged father is so clumsily wrapped up that it feels like parts of it happened off screen. Wayne and Ben also hang out with two other friends, but for some reason they disappear until the end of the movie with absolutely no explanation. Wayne tries to help his son raise money for good tools to use on getting the pool built, then stops, then resumes near the end of the movie. 

The movie is weird in the way that it has a story its telling, but at the same time feels like its not telling a story at all. Story plots begin and end without resolution. Some things make very little sense. Sub plots will begin only to not really resolve later but sort of. Its possibly the weirdest structured movie of the year. But if you like some big laughs, "Father of the Year" at least provides that for you. I guess on that basis, its not a completely boring movie. It's just oddly structured, and with not much resolve.


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