Advertisement

'Father's Day' movie review

May 21, 1997|By Jason Myers

'Father's Day' movie review

Crystal and Williams: The match is made in heaven, the movie is not

Billy Crystal and Robin Williams are such talented, crowd-pleasing comedians that you would expect them to make a movie with an impressive laugh-per-minute ratio. But their first collaborative film effort, the middling "Father's Day," is lucky to elicit several grins and a few mild laughs. It is not the fault of the actors, although both seem remarkably earnest, but rather the fault of the script, by Babaloo Mandel and the Hollywood moguls who approved it.

Note to filmmakers: stop adapting French comedies. They are not - absolutely not - funny at all. Like many American comedies and a good deal of British farces, "Les Compres," the film on which "Father's Day" is based, is focused more on concept and less on characterization and genuine wit. French comedies conjure the most outrageous situations imaginable and then pad them out with pat, juvenile jokes.

Advertisement

The "outrageous situation" in "Father's Day" is that Crystal and Williams are both potential fathers of a child born to a woman with whom they both were romantically involved 17 years prior to the beginning of the film, which takes place in present day. It seems that the boy has run away, and the mother, played by Natassja Kinski, hatches the story - on separate occasions - to the two unsuspecting men. Crystal plays a lawyer, and tritely is portrayed as conceited and obnoxious. Williams is a struggling writer, and so, of course, he is suicidal and theatrical. For a change, the character informs Williams' comic mania rather than vice versa. And Crystal plays the straight man.

If it doesn't sound like something that would have you rolling in the aisle with laughter, that is because it isn't. "Father's Day" is the kind of half-baked movie that a writing team gets down in an hour when they are bored out of their minds - usually it would star the likes of Daniel Stern and Randy Quaid, but for some reason two of the funniest guys alive were drawn to it.

"Father's Day" is mostly amusing, but the direction of Ivan Reitman is overly weighed in sentiment and much too loose. He gives his stars free rein, but they very rarely capitalize. There are one or two scenes - when the two fly together; a bit at the end where they head-butt their way through a heavy-metal concert - that suggest what might have been. But even these are recycled from previous, superior buddy movies like "Planes,Trains and Automobiles" and "Wayne's World." In those movies, there actually was development within and among the characters, whereas "Father's Day" features a series of standard characters who go nowhere and say nothing funny as they're going. Given a sharp script - or even a better day of improvisation - Williams and Crystal could surely make a hilarious movie. Unfortunately, "Father's Day" is not it.

1 1/2 Bags.

Jason Myers is a junior at North Hagerstown High School.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|