×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fathers’ Day

Robin Williams and Billy Crystal can each provoke a lot more laughs in a minute of standup than they jointly manage during the entire running time of "Fathers' Day." This wan American redo of the 1983 French comedy hit "Les Comperes" mechanically pushes the humor button one moment and the sentiment button the next, with results that will prove only mildly diverting to even the most undemanding audiences. Star names and family orientation of the material will ensure solid mainstream B.O. response. Even though Williams plays a former San Francisco hippie who still hasn't got his life together, the comic actor continues to move away from his former antic brilliance, here remaining in the squishy, emotions-on-his-sleeve vein of "Jack" and other recent outings. Crystal, on the other hand, strides through it all in the nonchalant manner of Jack Benny or George Burns, but with precious little of his customary sass. Combo of styles just doesn't strike the hoped-for sparks.

With:
Dale Putley ..... Robin Williams Jack Lawrence ..... Billy Crystal Carrie Lawrence ..... Julia Louis-Dreyfus Collette Andrews ..... Nastassja Kinski Scott Andrews ..... Charlie Hofheimer Bob Andrews ..... Bruce Greenwood Lee ..... Jared Harris Matt ..... Louis Lombardi Shirley Trainor ..... Patti D'Arbanville Nikki ..... Haylie Johnson Russ Trainor ..... Charles Rocket Calvin ..... Dennis Burkley

Francis Veber’s “Les Comperes,” which starred Pierre Richard and Gerard Depardieu, seemed like potentially promising material for an Americanization toplining such high-caliber performers. Situation-heavy plot centers upon a scheme hatched by a long-ago girlfriend of both men in which she separately informs each that he is the father of her 16-year-old son, who has recently run away. Duly enchanted by the notion of fatherhood, they begin the hunt and decide to team up when they inevitably bump into each other.

Adaptation fashioned by scripters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel has Crystal playing Jack Lawrence, a smoothly successful L.A. lawyer in a childless marriage to Carrie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Told by former flame Collette (Nastassja Kinski) that “their” son, Scott (Charlie Hofheimer), was last seen heading off with a girl and that they were probably headed north, he flies to San Francisco to interview the girl’s belligerent father.

Popular on Variety

On the same trail is Dale Putley (Williams), a putz-at-large whose writing talents remain undiscovered by the public and who teaches “English as a third language at the Jewish Community Center.” Dale has some very tiresome traits, such as passing out at the wheel of his car and panicking from fear of flying, but his general incompetence doesn’t prevent him and Jack from catching up with Scott in pretty short order, tracking him down at a rock concert in Sacramento.

Returning the passed-out kid to S.F., the guys manage to let him escape, a bad idea since, in another tedious development, Scott is holding some money for some cartoon-like drug dealers. Intercut with this pursuit is yet another sideline episode, in which the dad who has been raising Scott all these years (Bruce Greenwood) gets stuck in a portable latrine and, at great length but with no comic dividends, has to be rescued by an amiable trucker.

With sentiment, and the unsurprising revelation of the true father’s identity, taking hold, final reel seems entirely composed of meaningful hugging among everyone in the cast, emphasizing the renewed appreciation of family and bonding by the principals. It’s all less earned than it is programmed to strike the predictable notes of audience sympathy.

There is, of course, a comfort level in having Williams and Crystal onscreen nearly all the time, a friendliness that encourages viewers to go with the flow in full confidence that diversion will be their reward. “Fathers’ Day” doesn’t exactly betray that confidence, but it does decrease expectations about the bigscreen work of these two funnymen.

Ivan Reitman’s direction is perfunctory, leaning heavily on formula and knee-jerk response to the situations presented, and tech credits are strictly routine. Paul McCartney’s two original tunes penned for the pic have a customary upbeat jauntiness, while Mel Gibson pops up in a one-shot cameo as a heavily tattooed and body-pierced bloke at a rock festival.

Fathers' Day

Production: A Warner Bros. release of a Silver Pictures production in association with Northern Lights Entertainment. Produced by Joel Silver, Ivan Reitman. Executive producers, Joe Medjuck, Daniel Goldberg, Francis Veber. Co-producers, Gordon Webb, Karyn Fields. Directed by Ivan Reitman. Screenplay, Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, based on the film "Les Comperes" by Francis Veber

Crew: Camera (Technicolor, Panavision widescreen), Stephen H. Burum; editors, Sheldon Kahn, Wendy Greene Bricmont; music, James Newton Howard; songs, Paul McCartney; production design, Thomas Sanders; art direction, Daniel T. Dorrance; set decoration, Lauri Gaffin; costume design, Rita Ryack; sound (Dolby digital/DTS/SDDS), Gene S. Cantamessa, Clark King; associate producer, Kahn; assistant director, Albert Shapiro; second unit director, Joel Kramer; second unit camera, Kristin Glover; casting, Bonnie Timmermann, Michael Chinich. Reviewed at Glen Glenn Sound, L.A., April 29, 1997. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 98 MIN.

With: Dale Putley ..... Robin Williams Jack Lawrence ..... Billy Crystal Carrie Lawrence ..... Julia Louis-Dreyfus Collette Andrews ..... Nastassja Kinski Scott Andrews ..... Charlie Hofheimer Bob Andrews ..... Bruce Greenwood Lee ..... Jared Harris Matt ..... Louis Lombardi Shirley Trainor ..... Patti D'Arbanville Nikki ..... Haylie Johnson Russ Trainor ..... Charles Rocket Calvin ..... Dennis Burkley

More Film

  • Scandinavia's NENT Group Exits Non-Scripted, Focuses

    Scandinavia's NENT Group Pulls Plug on Non-Scripted, Sets Sights on Drama and Film

    Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group), one of Scandinavia’s largest media groups, is set to pull out of non-scripted content, and focus on scripted drama and film production and distribution. The company is looking to bring a minority equity partner on board to bolster its scripted drama production business. As part of the reorg, NENT Group [...]

  • Goteborg Film Festival The Gynecological Cinema

    Anna Odell Puts Men in a Gynaecological Chair

    After William Castle’s “Percepto!” or John Waters’ “Odorama,” it seems like the time has come for Swedish provocateur Anna Odell’s “The Gynaecological Cinema Chair” – an interactive experience created specially for this year’s Göteborg Film Festival. A concept that’s more than just an attention-grabbing gimmick, however, as the director behind 2013’s “The Reunion” was quick [...]

  • The-Intruder

    Watch the Trailer from Just Announced Berlin Competition Entry ‘The Intruder’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID  —  Just minutes after the Berlinale confirmed on Wednesday its selection in main competition, the pedigree producers of Argentine Natalia Meta’s “The Intruder” (“El Prófugo”) have dropped a first teaser-trailer for what has been described as a “pyscho-sexual fantastic thriller.” They have also confirmed more details of one of the buzziest new titles from [...]

  • Roman Polanski’s ‘An Officer and a

    Roman Polanski’s ‘An Officer and a Spy’ Leads Cesar Awards Nominations

    Roman Polanski’s “An Officer and a Spy” is leading the race for the Cesar Awards, France’s top film honors, with 12 nominations, followed by Ladj Ly’s Oscar-nominated “Les Miserables.” “An Officer and a Spy” earned nominations for best film, director, actor (Jean Dujardin), cinematography, set design, costume and music, among others. Although he’s been at [...]

  • Berlin Competition Lineup Features Kelly Reichardt,

    Berlin Competition Lineup Revealed: Sally Potter, Kelly Reichardt, Eliza Hittman, Abel Ferrara

    The Berlin International Film Festival has unveiled its 2020 line-up, with 18 films playing in competition from directors such as Abel Ferrara, Sally Potter, Christian Petzold, Hong Sangsoo, Kelly Reichardt and Eliza Hittman. Abel Ferrara’s Willem Dafoe starrer “Siberia” is a world premiere in competition, as is Sally Potter’s “The Roads Not Taken.” Among the [...]

  • Amy Ryan appears in Lost Girls

    'Lost Girls': Film Review

    It’s exciting, and fascinating, to see a great director of documentaries try his or her hand at a dramatic feature, since in theory the essential skill set should all be there. The best documentarians possess an acute visual sense, and they are all, of course, potent storytellers. Yet for every attempt at this sort of [...]

  • "Jojo Rabbit" and "Schitts Creek" Win

    'Jojo Rabbit,' 'Masked Singer' and 'Maleficent' Win Top Honors at Costume Designers Guild Awards

    The Costume Designers Guild handed out its trophies for the 22nd annual CDG Awards with “Jojo Rabbit” and “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” receiving top honors among the costumers. In the TV category, the hit “The Masked Singer” and designer Marina Toybina beat out reigning designer Zaldy (“RuPaul’s Drag Race”) for excellence in variety, reality-competition, live [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content