An Enjoyable But Largely Mediocre Offering
Like Father might have some nice ideas at its core but the clichéd structure and simplistic story beats make it feel like every other dramatic comedy in this category. An awkward chemistry between lead characters Rachel (Kristen Bell) and Harry (Kelsey Grammer) play centre field for much of the film’s 90 minute run time but a lack of memorable supporting characters means the film rests squarely on these two lead’s shoulders. While there are a few amusing moments, Like Father plays out much closer to a drama than a comedy but lacks enough charm to see it rise above mediocrity.
The story begins with a pretty decent shot, as the camera zooms out from workaholic Rachel as she tries frantically to nail a deal while preparing for her wedding. After being left at the altar by her groom-to-be, Rachel finds herself blind drunk with her estranged father and in her drunken state decides to bring Dad along instead of her former groom to her honeymoon. What transpires is an awkward and oftentimes contrived effort to show a rift between the two characters before the inevitable confrontation and final act that sees everything the two characters have been hiding from one another boil to the surface.
While the idea is solid and the cast do grow into their roles the longer the film wears on, there just isn’t enough here to help Like Father rise above the plethora of other films in this category. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which ironically features Kristen Bell too, does a much better job comically and dramatically with the idea of a failed marriage and Like Father just cannot compare to that film, despite a well worked twist late on.
That’s not to say there are no redeeming features here; bursts of drama and heartfelt truths are well acted and you do get the feel of a father-daughter dynamic at work here. Late on the dramatic confrontation between the two characters acts as a shining light in an otherwise mediocre title that really doesn’t have many redeeming features. Seth Rogan’s brief but charming appearance helps but the rest of the supporting cast feel like stock archetypal characters and fail to really flesh out their personas. The gay couple, the obese black man and the adorable old couple all make the cut which only reinforces the mediocrity Like Father nestles itself in.
Like Father isn’t a terrible film – there’s enough here to make for an enjoyable dramatic offering but classifying this one as a comedy does leave you scratching your head a little. There’s a profound lack of humour throughout the film and it’s only until late on that the cast really grow into their roles. Like Father is enjoyable to a point and if you like simplistic, predictable films with a light touch of humour and familial drama then you may find yourself enjoying this one. Those looking for something different or innovative will be left wanting in a film that can’t quite rise above mediocrity.