"Fathers' Day" seems to pride itself in its two main stars, Billy Crystal and Robin Williams. This is more of a film made out of vain then for comedic purposes. It is for the crowds out there who have been waiting for Billy Crystal and Robin Williams to star together in lead roles, almost like the fans of "Freddy vs. Jason" have been waiting for their heroes to duke it out. This movie combines two big stars, and the amazing thing is that it actually gets away with it.
Yes, "Fathers' Day" isn't all that great, and no, I didn't love it, but sue me: I enjoyed it. Is it too much to ask from a comedy that it simply entertain me, give me a few laughs? Films like "The Hot Chick" can't even manage to do this, but "Fathers' Day" pulls it off. Why? Maybe because it is so fun watching Crystal and Williams interact. They bring a dead script to life. I must admit that given a better script their pairing could have made for one of the funniest films of the year, but the screenplay for this movie is dead in the water. Crystal and Williams do their best and make it amusing, but it could have been so much more. When a film resorts to showing Robin Williams doing impersonations in front of a mirror for the umpteenth time, you know that the script isn't all it could and should have been.
And this is pretty strange, because Babaloo Mandez and Lowell Ganz are usually trustworthy to deliver an amusing and hysterical script. These are the men responsible for one of my favorite comedies in recent years, "City Slickers," and their script for "Fathers' Day" just sinks to predictability, sappiness and sterotypes.
Get this: Crystal plays an ambitious lawyer who gets a call from an ex-girlfriend he went out with 17 years earlier. She tells him that her sixteen-year-old son has run away from home, that he is the father, and that he must help retrieve the boy. She gives him a photo of the boy (who looks like the typical teenage snot named Scott), and touched by her story for whatever reason he agrees to find the boy.
Problem no. 1. Crystal is a lawyer. At the end of the film, he is lied to and knows this. His wife (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) asks how he knows. He says, "I'm a lawyer, people lie to me all the time." If he is such a brilliant lawyer, why did he not look past his ex-girlfriend's little lie? Don't know, don't care - it is part of the film and what can you do?
And get this: Crystal's ex happens to be Williams' ex, too. She tells Williams the exact same story as Crystal, hoping to get at least one of them to find the boy. They both try. We know they will accidentally meet looking for him, there will be confusion, the boy will not be grateful for their helping him out until the very end, and so on and so forth.
But this movie entertained me. Crystal and Williams have good chemistry, even if a good script could have made their interaction a bit more. The jokes do fall flat at times, but the direction is nice (Ivan "Ghostbusters" Reitman), and to be honest, I had fun watching this movie. That's all I really ask for in some comedies.
(Also note a cameo by Mel Gibson, who dropped by the set during filming of "Lethal Weapon 4" at Warner Bros.!)
3/5 stars -