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From Keating of Dead Poet's, to Lance the Dad!
Mar 31, 2010 04:12 PM 1984 Views
(Updated Mar 31, 2010 06:43 PM)

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Dead Poets Society, out in 1989, is an all time classic about the education system and its failings..about the influence a good teacher can have on young minds, about the power and angst of adolescense and so on. Worlds Greatest Dad is also set in the school milieu, has some teen angst....but that is where the similarity ends coz society and movies today are very different from the way they were back in the 80's. Read on to know more about this marvelous movie out last year, that vanished into obscurity, very unfairly.


Director: Bobcat Goldthwaite (directed episodes of Jimmy Kimmel Live)


Cast: Robin Williams, Daryl Sabara, Alexie Gilmore, Evan Martin.


PLOT:


Lance Clayton (Robin Williams) is a high school teacher, a failed, aspiring writer, and a divorced (aspiring to be good) father. His son Kyle (Daryl Sabara) is a very unlikeable, obnoxious 15 year old whose greatest joy in life seems to be tormenting his gentle father, and engaging in perverse acts of sexual self- gratification. Kyle is quite unpopular amongst his peers at school, the same school where his father teaches and is constantly being called into the principal's office to answer to his sons failures. Lance tries his best to engage his son by being indulgent about his eccentric perversities, but the son has no respect or tolerance for his meek father. The only friend Kyle has is Andrew (Evan Martin), another social outcast like himself.


In the midst of trying to get his novels published and in trying to engage his son, Lance also has aspirations to bed a sexy co-worker Claire (Alexie Gilmore) who appears to flirt with all the male teachers, and plays them all against each other!


And then the story takes a turn, from the mildly humourous to the tragic...death comes a visiting, albeit accidentally, to the Clayton household. What follows is the most tragi-comic sequence of events that are typical of the world we live in today....you have to watch this poignant, sometimes unintentionally hilarious, movie to find out the rest....


MY TAKE:


"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone."


These lines quoted by Lance (Robin Williams) are the crux of this movie. Although this movie is set in the high school milieu, this movie is ultimately about a man and his fear of loneliness, his fear of vanishing into obscurity without having achieved anything in life. A man who does desperate things in order to avoid that fate, ultimately realising how wrong he was.


This movie tackles so many issues that plague mankind today...the dissolution of conventional two parent families, the often tangled, hostile relationship between parent and child, the social isolation that haunts us at every stage of our lives, the excessive emphasis on achievement and fame, the fact that even notoriety is preferable to not being known at all.....the pain of human condition indeed!


I have never been a huge fan of Robin Williams in his comic avatar (the horrendous RV anyone!), but when he does a sensitive turn like in Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, and now in Worlds Greatest Dad...he is brilliant. He strikes me as a man who is very self aware, clued into his own failings and his own vulnerability as a human being...translates very well onto screen in roles such as Lance Clayton. He underplays his role beautifully and ably conveys his bemusement where it comes to his son. I have no idea why he wasnt nominated for the oscar for this one..in my opinion, Robin Williams as Lance Clayton, the not so perfect Dad, was far superior to Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart.


The other actors, Daryl Sabara as the kinky, annoying son, Alexie Gilmore as the fickle girlfriend, Evan Martin as the stone-faced loyal friend, are all good. While I cant find fault with the principle cast, some of the kids who played Kyle's school mates were caricatures of what one has come to expect of the "American teen", a bit overdone.


Watch this movie for the great story, for the cast led by a superlative Robin Williams, for the many smiles it provides (some unintentional and more grimace like!), for the mostly accurate portrayal of what our world has come to.


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