World's Greatest Dad (2009) & Big Fan (2009)

We've had some chuckles here at The Buff over how the marketing of films is so often wide of the mark. We've seen Inglourious Basterds misrepresented as a Dirty dozen remake, Moon was pushed as some sort of sub Fight club 'imaginary friend' scenario and Drag me to hell just looked plain shite when it really wasn't.
In the absence of any large marketing campaign we're made to speculate. Is it in a mostly white case? Probably a light-hearted 'RomCom'. Holographic case? Definitely a horror, and if Kate Winslet is in it it's probably good but has no guns, cars and/or spaceships and as such is severely limited.
On this sort of a 'miseducated guess' basis, the first impressions of these two films were way off.

After the torture of One Hour Photo I wasn't sure if I could ever watch Robin Williams anymore, it was somehow too sad, too tragic and ultimately unrewarding. However, I came across this trailer and on the strength of that I gave World's greatest dad (2009) a chance. I must say, I'm glad I did.
At a time where people are calling The Hangover "Movie of the year" this film is a twisted gourd tossed in the fruit salad at some shitty Hollywood party. The writing is acerbic and uncomfortably truthful at times yet balanced with enough genuine humour and dark turns to make for a totally impressive film. Writer Bobcat Goldthwaite hasn't really been on my radar at all since I was 10 and confused by his screeching on Police Academy. He's well on there now with this, the best comedy I've seen well, so far this year anyway.


Patton Oswalt is one of the best stand up comedians around, I'm a big fan. Curious? Check out the live album Werewolves and Lollipops or browse m4m on Craigslist's 'Casual encounters' section. So, being that this dark comic has made me look like a walking asthma attack on several occasions, I was really looking forward to his big screen transition in Big Fan (2009). I watch... and I wait... and I'm totally confused.

It's certainly not a bad movie but one thing it isn't is a comedy. A little research shows it's from Robert D Siegel, writer of The Wrestler, a film which I loved but here he's gone for the quick one-two knockout and not quite landed. Big Fan is a story of faded dreams and missed opportunities much like The Wrestler but it's just somehow less interesting. The good news is Patton is really quite a decent actor and this film although not a triumph is enough of a square peg to be of interest to all but the most dedicated Bride Wars fan.


La Sporgenza said...

Funny you should pick these two films. I just can't bring myself to watch either even though they've both been sitting here for a while now. Movie marketing is a mystery at the best of times. Nick pointed out that The Hurt Locker boxart is terrible and completely misrepresents the film. Joe has posted on numerous occasions boxart from other regions that regularly blows away the North American versions.

Marketing often seems a function of misrepresentation to make a film seem as slight and digestable as possible. If it looks too challenging, most will pass on it seems to be the rule of thumb applied.

Coincidently, scope out this web page about 3 posters, 2 of which are the films you cite. Strange huh?


BTW, I will watch these.....just later.

Britarded said...

Haha, World's greatest dad is the most blaring example we've seen in a while, not surprised someone else picked up on it. Still, I think Big Fan looks like a comedy, even if you don't know who Patton is. As for marketing I definitely agree, most marketing will simplify a plot or pigeon hole the film into a recognizable genre just to make it seem like you say, more 'digestible'. The trailer put me off seeing Moon at the cinema though so, swings and roundabouts. Dumbing down and dumbing down.

Chandles said...

He ain't lying. World's Greatest Dad is awfully dark but really quite funny.