Disturbing, provocative, and pertinent, Bobcat Goldwait’s World’s Greatest Dad goes places few Hollywood films dare. In a stunning performance, Robin Williams plays Lance Clayton, a fledgling writer/high school teacher singe-handily raising a nightmare of a son obsessed with sex and porn. When an inevitable tragedy threatens to rip apart his life and the reputation of his family, Clayton falls back on his skills as a writer to paint a much different picture (I’m being vague on purpose as not to spoil the brilliant story). This false construction of identity reveals the fissures of High School life, both a product of teen apathy and adult cluelessness.
World’s Greatest Dad is a major step forward for Goldwait as a writer/director, delving into arenas of trauma and pain often ignored by the typical High School film. Each character, no matter how revolting, is given a weight of personality and dimension that makes the story a particularly potent examination of perception battling reality.
Goldwait splits his narrative into two parts through the use of a staggering montage sequence staged using every character (reminiscent of the “Mad World” scene in Donnie Darko). It’s a crucial achievement especially considering the minefield of material being thrown around. World’s Greatest Dad might be a brutal dark comedy on the surface, but underneath it lives and breathes compassion for even the most vile creatures. It’s final moment is one to cherish, where true friendship (and family) triumph in the face of collective apathy and artificiality.