Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Movie Review: "Like Father" (2018)

Director: Lauren Miller Rogen
Year: 2018
Rating: TV-MA
Running Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

A workaholic named Rachel gets left at the alter because she couldn't get off her phone long enough to get married. On the same day of her wedding, Rachel's estranged father, whom she hasn't seen in 26 years, shows up trying to make amends. After a night of heavy drinking, she winds up going on the trip that was supposed to be her honeymoon with her dad, giving them the opportunity to reconnect after decades apart.

"I think maybe I'm an asshole." (Image Source)
"Like Father" is exactly like any road trip movie, but it takes place on a boat. It's a boat trip movie! This film is the feature directorial debut of Lauren Miller Rogen. She also wrote the screenplay and has been a writer on other flicks such as "Girls! Girls! Girls!" and "For a Good Time, Call..." The story revolves around a workaholic named Rachel (Kristen Bell), who works for an advertising agency. The movie begins on her wedding day where instead of focusing on the fun of her "big day" and being in the moment, she is taking calls and trying to make deals to land clients right until the moment her nuptials are supposed to start. When her fiance finds out she was on the phone right before he says "I do," he decides he can't go through with the wedding. That same day, Rachel's estranged father Harry (Kelsey Grammer), who she hasn't seen in 26 years, shows up out of the blue. Harry assumed that her wedding would be the perfect place to reconnect since Rachel would be so happy that she couldn't possibly have time to be mad. That obviously didn't work out, so instead, he offers to take her out drinking as a way to cope. That evening, they get super wasted, and on a whim, Rachel decides to take her estranged father on the cruise that was intended to be her honeymoon vacation. Now, the two are forced to share a cabin on a cruise ship where they may, or may not, depending on the trip, have a chance to put their problems in the past.
"This is more interesting than what they've got in the brochure." (Image Source)
"Like Father" is reminiscent of a couple recent road trip films like "Kodachrome" and "Boundaries" where a deservingly isolated father comes back into their kid's life to follow the typical and expected formula all the way to an ultimate resolution. The only real difference between this movie and the others is that it takes place on a boat instead of in a car, so it provides a different kind of isolation. In both of the previously mentioned flicks, the finales feel a bit more unearned. In this movie, however, Harry makes a genuine effort to be a better person and to make up the best he can for abandoning his daughter when she was five. Still, "Like Father" does play out the same tried-and-true recipe along the way, complete with nearly identical contrived conflicts and solutions as most others in the 'road trip family reconciliation comedy' genre.

The biggest strength of this Netflix original is its cast. We really like Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer here, and the two of them have excellent chemistry together. Though Rachel is hurt and angered and perplexed by her father's random appearance back into her life, there's a lot of cruise-line entertainment and shenanigans along the way so that the film doesn't feel entirely bogged down by drama as Harry fights for a reconciliation. We can forgive some of the movie's more glaring flaws because Bell and Grammer get to sing a duet in matching shimmery outfits at the end of the movie, and what's not to love about Sideshow Bob and Anna from "Frozen" belting out tunes together?! Seth Rogen is also in the movie as Jeff, a potential love interest for Rachel. This relationship doesn't go quite as you may expect and we actually enjoyed the non-cliche way that situation is handled. Our biggest critique of "Like Father" is the ending. It finishes as most movies do...but then ends again...and then for good measure, it concludes one more time. It falls into more and more tropes as each coda wraps up, and we could have done without these multiple finales.
"Fear of loneliness is a very powerful thing." (Image Source)
Overall, "Like Father" may not be the best flick in the world, but it's worth watching if you have the time. After all, it is on Netflix, so all it will really cost you is minutes. This is one of Netflix's better original offerings from 2018.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.1/10
RT Rating: ~45%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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