A good comedy is full of excitement, ridiculousness and unexpected plot twists that can happen at any second. Comedies are meant to make people laugh, keep people on their toes and, somehow, stick to a plot. Netflix’s newest comedy Father of the Year definitely scores laughs, but lacks both the organization and focus that would make it truly great.
The off-color feature film, produced by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions, is a coming-of-age story of two idiotic best friends — Ben and Larry — and their even dumber fathers. After Ben and Larry drunkenly bet over whose father would win in a fight, their parents take it seriously and chaos ensues.
Ben’s father, Wayne (David Spade), is a hardcore trailer park dweller with a thick New England accent. He’s dirty, sleazy and everything that epitomizes trailer park trash. On the other hand, Mardy — played by Nat Faxon of Ben and Kate — is an uptight wimp with an eight-year-old bully of a stepson. Mardy and Wayne are complete opposites, but when paired have a nail-biting and cringe-worthy dynamic that somehow works.
We all enjoy watching people fail, especially when it involves two old people fighting. Fight scenes between Faxon and Spade are those raw sequences that make the film interesting and memorable. In one scene Spade is fighting an inflatable blow up sign and in the next he’s toppling over a roof and into a greenhouse. In another, Spade creates a makeshift jacuzzi out of a truck and in the next he’s compared to a “premature baby bird shooting out of the birth canal.”
Father of the Year excels with these unexpected low-brow jokes. You can’t help but smile at slapstick sequences like these.
The issue with Father of the Year is not that it’s boring, but that it’s confusing. The film attempts dozens of different subplots in 94 minutes and in the process loses its roots. In 10 minutes, Father of the Year jumps from a successful, hilarious fight scene to a stint in jail, a love interest and a dead mailman.
Father of the Year tries to be a mystery-thriller, a teen romance and a dark comedy all at once. But by focusing its energy on these uneventful side-plots — like Ben’s lost job, Ben’s love interest, and Larry’s work ethic — it half-asses the awkward fight scenes it’s good at and suffers an identity crisis in the process.
With B-list celebrities like David Spade and Disney star Bridgit Mendler, Father of the Year had so much potential. But the film spent too much time trying to be Film of the Year instead of Comedy of the Year.