Based on the three movies under his belt as a writer and director, it's safe to say that Bobcat Goldthwait feels most comfortable when he's making his audience uncomfortable. Like many other indie filmmakers, Goldthwait is interested in mining the human condition but he can't seem to stop himself from pegging those explorations to premises that will repulse his target grown-up audience.
"World's Greatest Dad," Goldthwait's latest, turns on an act that you won't find in the pages of "The Joy of Sex." Just as he used bestiality as a plot device to delve into matters of trust in his 2006 comedy-drama "Sleeping Dogs Lie," Goldthwait here isn't particularly interested in the actual transgression -- or its shock value. What he really latches onto with "Dad" is our selective memories when it comes to collective grief, a pretty timely topic for our post-Jacko world.
The film's "world's greatest dad" is failed novelist Lance (Robin Williams at his tamped-down best), a high school English teacher who, like every other adult in the movie, is a big phony. However, fakery might be better than the real thing, at least when it comes to Lance's ball-of-bile, adolescent son Kyle ("Spy Kids' " Daryl Sabara), a teenager possessing a complete contempt for everything as well as a narrow, unimaginative range of interests (basically: porn and masturbation).