Question: can several choice comedic actors take an ordinary script with a remedial plot and make it funnier than what’s on the written page? Answer: see this movie and find out how it’s possible! With the acting talents of Bryan Cranston, Megan Mullally, James Franco, and Keegan-Michael Key, this standard comedy of ‘dad meeting his daughter’s new boyfriend’ is elevated to new heights.
The plot isn’t new; you’ve seen it dozens of times in movies like Meet The Parents, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, 10 Things I Hate About You, and a plethora more, so we get introduced to the oh-so cute college daughter, Stephanie Fleming (Zoey Deutch) who’s dating some weird guy named Laird Mayhew (Franco). Laird happens to be the wealthy CEO of a gaming tech company and, over the Christmas holidays, Stephanie invites her family to Laird’s vast San Jose ranch for a visit. Sound’s nice, huh? But things go haywire quickly, when dear ‘ol dad, Ned Fleming (Cranston), meets the over-zealous, quirky, and unfiltered potty-mouthed Laird.
Mother Barb (Mullaly) is trying so soak it all in, while teenage brother Scotty (Griffin Gluck), is enjoying the hell outta Laird. They also meet Laird’s personal assistant and best friend, Gustav (Key with a floating German accent) and the household’s disembodied SIRI-like computer secretary, Justine (voiced by Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco). The huge estate is home to wildlife, tech of every sort, up-and-coming programmers, and very odd paintings depicting sexual acts with animals. Yeah, odd. Laird has his personal own cook (Richard Blais from TV’s Top Chef) and throws parties that include noted billionaires and entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, but despite all this, Ned isn’t buying it.
Dad just doesn’t like this guy, despite all the effort that Laird goes into making the Fleming’s feel at home. Oh sure, Laird’s a nice guy, but he’s also vulgar, over-eager, and has a blunt personality that turns off some people. . . like Ned! So dad decides to call Laird out and expose him for the ‘fraud’ that he is by showing his daughter what a fake the man is and end the hook-up.
Y’see, Laird told Ned he plans to propose to Stephanie in only a few days, so Ned panics and hacks into Laird’s computer and learns the truth about Laird’s finances. Lies and more lies (on both sides) are unveiled with the inevitable dividing of houses and splitting of families occur until the familiar third act resolution and reconciliation happens, where everyone suddenly comes clean and loves each other. AND two members of KISS show up. In full make-up and costume, too!
Okay, the script by John Hamburg and Ian Helfer isn’t the most original, but it does score points for some delicious little moments, brought to life courtesy of the actors. I’ve always maintained that a script is only as good as the actor(s) that bring it to life, and that is SO true here. Take the ‘toilet’ scene for example; Cranston and Key take a nothing little scene and turn into comedy gold with just their expressions alone.
This happens throughout the movie and is brought out more by Hamburg, who also directed and knew where to find the magic. Franco and Deutch are nice together, although you don’t quite buy the Laird/Stephanie relationship, but Cranston and Barb as the parents are wonderful and have the better chemistry. Still, there are some big laughs peppered here and there that are worth your ticket price.
During the salad days of the Walt Disney Studios, they cranked out a bunch of family-friendly movies for theatrical release, many of which were very good (the Dexter Riley series) and some not so good (The North Avenue Irregulars). This one scraped the bottom of the barrel, although it had a great cast and good intentions.Handsome-beyond-words Bob Crane had just completed his stint on the wildly popular Hogan’s Heroes TV show and so, naturally, movies were his next calling. Disney Studios gave him two scripts: Superdad and Gus, both of which turned out to be commercial failures and hurt his career so badly, that he never truly recovered to his early days of name recognition and fame.Anywho, this ridiculous story written by Harlan Ware and Joseph L. McEveety, deals with an over-zealous father named Charlie McCready (Crane) who lives for his beautiful and fun-loving daughter, Wendy (Kathleen Cody). But Wendy would rather be with her beach bum friends and her handsome boyfriend, Bart (Kurt Russell), than think about school. So Dad decides to ingratiate himself with her friends and be like them: surfing, playing beach volleyball, and just hanging out, but he ends up embarrassing himself and getting hurt.
Wendy soon receives a letter telling her she’s won a full scholarship to her dad’s alma mater, prestigious Huttington College, but the letter is a fake; her father has secretly paid for her tuition himself! He did it so Wendy wouldn’t attend local City College with Bart and her other friends. What a dick! After Dad visits Wendy at Huttington and sees that college life there has changed considerably and Wendy discovers the tuition ruse, she gets mad and joins the campus counter-culture for revenge.
She even becomes engaged to a very strange street hippie artist named Klutch (Joby Baker) who uses a painting as their engagement ring! Faster than he can say, “Why him?”, dad attempts to stop their engagement, and a fistfight with Klutch breaks out. Bart comes to the rescue and the movie ends with Wendy marrying Bart, which was almost a bit of art-imitating-life-imitating-art as Cody and Russell were dating at the same time and almost tied the knot. Directed by Vincent McEveety, this is just one badly made movie. It struggles to be funny and is painful to watch the forced ‘humor’.
While Crane was supposed to be funny and likable, he just came off as mean-spirited and unlovable; not good for a Disney movie! Russell and Cody were cute together and had nice chemistry, but it was clear that she wasn’t very good. The direction looks like a bad sitcom with some of the worst SPFX ever… and don’t get me started on the horrible plotline and terrible dialogue! What makes this movie even MORE of a tragedy is Crane’s downward obsessive spiral into all things porn that started with the flops he did for Disney.