Tuesday Review – Like Father (2018)

220px-likefatherposter5_star_rating_system_3_stars Once again, the film Gods were against me and I didn’t get the chance to watch new releases. So I took the opportunity to watch this Netflix film that’s been on my radar since it came on the site. It’s something I wasn’t exactly sure about but I was interested in its cast. I’m a huge fan of Kristen Bell in general and I have fond memories of Kelsey Grammer from Frasier. Of course, his appearance as Beast in the third X-Men film took some time to get over but I still think he’s a good actor. Plus, his appearances in 30 Rock were more than enough to take my mind of it. “Frajer!!!!”  But, as I say every time I review a Netflix original, I have no faith in their ability to make original and exciting films. They tend to make middle- of-the-road stuff that won’t offend anyone but that you won’t be in a rush to rewatch them. We’re still at a point where the only truly great film is Okja . Unless we’re talking about documentaries. Then there’s bloody loads of them. I don’t see how they can make such amazing television but so many boring films. Still, I’m ever hopeful so I watched this film desperate for something different.

Like Father starts with a scene that happens quite a lot in films and television but I’m unconvinced actually happens in real life. At least only on extreme occasions. Somebody stops their wedding ceremony halfway through and walks out. I understand that people will be jilted on their wedding day in real-life but how many people would get to the point of standing in front of their friends and family before deciding its a bad idea? I mean who would really let it get to the actual day but certainly not in the middle? It’s crazy. All that money. All that time. All those guests. You’d definitely have called it off beforehand, right? I would anyway.

Nevermind. So, there we are; wedding ceremony has started and groom, Owen, has decided that his wife-to-be, Rachel (Kristen Bell), is too focused on work and has decided to ditch. As Rachel turns to the bottle to forget her woes, she has the added trauma of her absentee father (Kelsey Grammer) turning up after 21 years. After the pair got blackout drunk, they wake up on the cruise that Owen had booked for their Honeymoon. Hungover, angry, and still processing her break-up, it’s safe to say that Rachel doesn’t exactly throw herself into cruise life. But her father completely embraces the trip. He encourages Rachel to make new friends and put down her phone in order to enjoy the experience. But, still, work comes first.

Like Father is a confusing kind of film but I’m not talking about the narrative. That aspect is as familiar and comfortable as one might expect. It’s the kind of plot that would have been stretched out over a series of an underwhelming sitcom. Deadbeat Dad trying to prove himself whilst his daughter tries to find a balance between her personal and professional live. Chuck in a couple of clichéd gay men, a naive but friendly Canadian man, and a rich older couple. It’s all there just as it has been in thousands of other sappy comedies. There’s a nostalgia to all this that feels like being wrapped in a warm blanket on a cold night. It’s all very safe and secure but it’s not the most exciting thing.

What makes Like Father work beyond its meagre narrative is the two leads. Kelsey Grammer has great chemistry with his on-screen daughter and he plays the role of loser father pretty well. It’s not the greatest performance you’ll ever see but he’s a safe pair of hands. It’s Kristen Bell who really takes the focus here even if it’s not the best thing you’ll ever see her in. She gives Rachel and sharp and sassy edge here and is able to really let loose on occasion. The pair look like they’re having fun and it really helps the film come to life.

Which is necessary because in the hands of any other pair this film could have been a complete snooze. Of course, it helps that it is so beautifully shot. It has the look of an ordinary film and utilises the setting wonderfully. You can easily get distracted from the utterly safe script and familiar situations thanks to the view. But, ultimately, there is no real surprise when it comes to Like Father. There are some genuinely poignant moments but you can guess where this is heading from the beginning. This doesn’t make it bad but it does make it forgettable. You’ll enjoy this film as it’s playing but try to remember the finer details later and you’ll probably struggle. It’s exactly the kind of background noise, lazy Sunday kind of film that Netflix have been churning out endlessly in the last few years. It’ll no doubt get high viewing figures but very few discerning film fans will go back for a second look.

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