The Darker Side of Robin Williams "World's Greatest Dad"

The Darker Side of Robin Williams

World's Greatest Dad

The title leads you to believe that this is another crazy family comedy starring Robin Williams that the whole family could enjoy.  The poster, however, deceives the title and shows a lonely and tired Robin.  Written and directed by popular 80s comedian Bobcat Goldthwait the story is told in a darkly comedic and satirical tone.  Similar to his later and even darker film "God Bless America".

Robin plays Lance Clayton a struggling writer who has yet to have anything published. Although he is very persistent he is on the verge of giving up all hope.  His day job is a high school English teacher at the school his teenage son currently attends.  To put it bluntly his son Kyle is just an asshole on every level.  He does, however, have one loyal friend in Andrew who lives next door.  A nice kid who really only stays over at to escape his own horrific home life.  Lance is divorced and only half-heartedly tries to control Kyle.  After so many years of trying he is starting to give on him too.

Lance is a likable enough guy and has managed to carry on a relationship with a much younger teacher at the school.  It becomes threatened when a colleague, a young black man, has the first thing he ever wrote published in a New York magazine.  Lance is quite the sad sack, but things are to about to look up when he finds that Kyle has accidentally killed himself while masturbating.  Autoerotic asphyxiation to be exact.  To protect his son's dignity Lance hangs the body in the closet to make it look like a suicide before calling the cops.  He also types up a suicide note and sticks it in Kyle's shirt pocket.  The note turns out to be the best thing he has ever written and is taken as a window into Kyle's profound inner pain.  Like the latest social media fad, Kyle's note goes viral and people can't get enough of him.  Looking to cash in on his son's sudden popularity he writes up a mock journal of Kyle's and actually gets it published.  Lance plays the grieving father perfectly during interviews and soon enough he becomes a sort of celebrity himself.

Lance loves all of the attention he is getting from the news media, publishers and colleagues.  In a twisted sort of way his, all his dreams are coming true.  But when the school plans to rename the library in honor of Kyle, he must draw the line and finally come clean about the whole ordeal.  He admits his own son was a jerk and nobody paid any attention to him when he was alive.  The movie makes a statement on the greedy nastiness of the news media.  How Kyle's suicide was just another product to be sold to the American public.  It was never really about Kyle, but how other people could profit from his death.  Something Lance got swept up in but was finally able to come to his senses and morn his son died.

In light of Robin's own tragic suicide "World's Greatest Dad's" has an even more eerie feel to it.  At one point his character utters the line "Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem."  Sadly less than five years later Robin was unable to take Lance's advice.