When I think serious Robin Williams, I think of the roles he has done in serious films that, more or less, have a slight bit of humor to them, such as The World According to Garp, rather than his scary all-out serious roles, such as that of One Hour Photo. However, his role in World's Greatest Dad is not exactly the kind I would expect him to take on. Then again, it's not the kind of movie I thought I'd enjoy.
Williams plays Lance Clayton, an unpublished English teacher who teaches a boring poetry class in which students copy song lyrics for their poems while he dreams of becoming a wealthy author. If that's not bad enough, his son Kyle, played brilliantly by Daryl Sabara, is a twisted, sex-obsessed teenager out to cause trouble just to cause trouble (at least that's the impression I received from the kid).
Kyle's bizarre sexual preferences leads him to an autoerotic asphyxiation accident. Williams's delivers the most amazing performance when he walks in to find his son dead. It sent chills down my spine to see his reaction to his son's death.
So what is a father to do? Well, if you're Lance Clayton, it's to clean up the accident, fake a suicide and write a note in order to avoid embarrassment. This thrusts Lance into the spotlight as the letter becomes a hit at the school. He then writes a fake journal that belonged to Kyle, which goes on to be an international success.
As a writer wanting to be published, I found a lot of this story ironic. It seems that most of the famous works by authors are published posthumously rather than while living. To see Lance become a huge success under false pretenses was funny.
Sabara is the surprise for me in this film. When I think of him, I think of Spy Kids and his role on an episode of House. Here, he makes a good transition into more mature roles, even though the role he took on was not that of a mature boy. He has a filthy mouth throughout his appearance and I must admit I was not sorry to see his character go as early in the film as it did.
Music plays an important role in the film. There are several scenes in you see the film but the sound is covered up by a song, such as when Lance discovers Kyle dead. The songs match perfectly with each scene they are in and I give a lot of credit to the director for his song choices.
All in all, the film is very vulgar and bothered me a bit with how much profanity there was. Also, Kyle's character easily gets on your nerves. I can think of a number of parents who would've taken care of that kid in a different manner than Lance does, but that is not for this reviewer to say. There are some moments where I wonder if a child could be so crude and selfish, but I'm sure anything is possible in today's society.
This is, by no means, a film for everyone. It has parts to it that I know someone couldn't handle. Then again, it's still a good film that shows how great Williams is at serious acting when he wants to be.