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'Father's Day:' Oh, Grow Up!

May 10, 1997
Web posted at: 5:18 p.m. EDT (2118 GMT)

From Reviewer Carol Buckland

Fathers' Day Scenes

(CNN) -- Call me suspicious, but when Hollywood releases a film called "Father's Day" just in time for Mother's Day weekend, I start to wonder whether the people involved don't have a problem with timing.

Well, I'm wondering no more. They do.

"Father's Day" is a draggy disappointment. Despite the comic charisma of Billy Crystal and Robin Williams, the movie is surprisingly laugh-deficient. What yuks there are strictly schtick; They have little or nothing to do with the story.

That story happens to be adapted from a delightful French film called "Les Comperes." Released in the United States in 1984, it was a fine odd-couple farce starring Pierre Richard and (almost inevitably) Gerard Depardieu.

The plot of the American film is put in motion when the teen- age son of a woman called Colette (played by a blond and surprisingly bland Nastassia Kinski) runs away. Desperate to find him, she contacts two former lovers (Crystal and Williams). After informing each that he is the boy's dad, she pleads for help in tracking the kid down. The two men set out on their paternal quests separately, but quickly cross paths.

Clip: "Hi, Scotty" 38 sec. / 1.4M QuickTime movie
Entire movie trailer 2:20 Vxtreme streaming video

Crystal's character is a thrice-married, buttoned-down lawyer with an inexplicable fondness for headbutting. His is the straight man role, and he contributes some sharply sardonic moments. He is the closest thing this movie has to a grown-up.

Williams' character is an insecure, immature would-be poet/playwright. He relies on a lot of familiar routines. While his seemingly spontaneous riffing seemed hilarious a decade ago, it's getting pretty old.

Also on hand: Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Crystal's character's third wife and Bruce Greenwood as Kinski's husband. Louis-Dreyfus is appealing, although she seems a bit uncertain about what she's supposed to be doing in several scenes. Greenwood spends a lot of the film stuck in a port-a-potty.

Charlie Hofheimer is good as the runaway son, lending some dimension to a very flat role. There's also a clever cameo with Mel Gibson.

The script is uninspired. A subplot involving drug dealing is particularly lame; it's neither well-developed nor satisfactorily resolved. Ivan Reitman's direction is formulaic in the extreme. The look of the film seems curiously cheap and washed out.

"Father's Day's" has a few laugh-out-loud sequences, but it's nothing to celebrate.

This films runs 99 minutes. It is rated PG-13. There is some mild profanity (Williams' dialogue gets a rather blue at times) and several sexual situations.

Fathers' Day Scenes

 
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