Comedian Bob "Bobcat" Goldthwait was exploring inappropriate humor long before Shakes the Clown or the little-seen Stay (in which a woman confesses to inappropriate sexual contact with her dog). His latest, filmed here in Seattle, begins with a winningly wrong-yet-funny premise. A meek writing teacher (Robin Williams) is single-parenting a horrid teen (the very effective Daryl Sabara), who's rightfully shunned by his schoolmates. But unpublished author Williams has his revenge, of sorts, on both the school and the snobby editors of The New Yorker by penning a best-selling fake memoir in his son's name. Formerly a failed writer, he gives society exactly the sort of pabulum it wants to hear, in the process turning his misfit son into an unlikely role model. Suddenly it's hip, or so the teens slavishly believe, to dig Emily Dickinson and Bruce Hornsby—anything to be like Williams' son (or so he tells them). Naturally this lie spins out of control; so too does Dad's dark satire in its meandering third act. Williams' book becomes the means to regain his ex-girlfriend, and it also draws a Hollywood swarm of agents and parasites. This shy milquetoast, perhaps like Goldthwait himself, is disgusted by the showbiz hype he triggers. For that reason, the laughs are strongest within the confines of school and family—it's very much Tom Perrotta territory, only with the Goldthwait twist.
Williams (center) finds sudden influence over teens.
Runs at Harvard Exit, Fri., Sept. 4. Rated R. 99 minutes.Read our interview with writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait.