By Jason Fontelieu
With a lackluster premise, a star-studded cast kept from reaching their potential and an inconsistent plot, the Netflix original film Like Father was doomed from the get-go.
Kristen Bell stars as Rachel, a woman left at the altar because of her workaholic habits and major addiction to her smartphone. And because that’s not enough, Rachel’s estranged father Harry (Kelsey Grammer) shows up at the wedding after being absent for 26 years.
After the ceremony, the two reunite for a night-long bender, and by the end, they somehow end up on the cruise ship meant for Rachel’s honeymoon for a vacation filled with heartbreak, redemption and most importantly, karaoke.
Anyone familiar with Bell’s work on NBC’s The Good Place or the film Bad Moms is attuned to her chipper brand of dark humor. But the film stunts Bell’s comedic abilities, and her humor feels purposefully restricted — not great for a film in desperate need of some laughs.
Many of Like Father‘s gags are executed by forgettable minor characters, leaving viewers unsatisfied. Even an appearance by comedic genius Seth Rogen as an overseas rebound for Bell fails to deliver a chuckle.
At times, it’s frustrating how little is revealed about Grammer’s character and his life after leaving Rachel and her mother. His motives for coming back into Rachel’s life are enigmatic for much of the movie — which is confusing, since it’s entirely about his newly re-discovered relationship with his estranged daughter
Like Father focuses mainly on the relationship between Rachel and her father, and the mending of their relationship after so much time apart. But their relationship takes far too long to develop and leaves both characters unlikable for much of the film. Sure, by the end, both characters are fully developed, but the delay in character development and plot movement bores the viewer.
The quality cinematography provides one reason to keep watching. With the pristine shots of the luxurious amenities of the cruise ship and the flora and fauna of the Jamaican jungle, an air of professionalism was much appreciated.
While this film’s bittersweet ending tugs at heartstrings, viewers can’t help but continuously check the runtime throughout the movie to see how much more they have to put up with until they get there. Like Father does have its bright spots — like a hilarious game show sketch where Bell and Grammer must pose as honeymooners — but those are few and far between, leaving the film to come off as a slow-moving disappointment.