I was pretty serious about trying to be more positive about the things we review on this site, which is why it’s probably best I stop reviewing Netflix movies all together. Like I said in my review for Ibiza the Netflix flicks pose a particularly difficult challenge for me because I have nearly nothing to say about them. They are (as I also outlined in that article) exactly “fine,” which I suppose is a triumph for them because (as I also also outlined in that article) I think that’s exactly where they’re trying to land. In that sense they are almost more infuriating than truly bad films, because at least truly bad films have some sort of flavor. If this is all sounding familiar, it’s because I’m basically just re-saying what I said for Ibiza, which was pretty much just paraphrasing my other Netflix reviews. They are complacent films for complacent people, and yet I continue to watch them and thus, they win.
What is the premise of this particular time passer? Rachel Hamilton (Kristen Bell) is getting married, but, uh oh, she loves work too much and her husband-to-be leaves her at the altar. In the crowd is her estranged father, Harry (Kelsey Gramer). After things go south he takes her out for a night of drinking and they end up on, get this, her honeymoon together! Guess they’ll have to work past some of those issues together.
It’s honestly a pretty decent concept for a tame comedy about a father and a daughter, but it doesn’t get much mileage out of it. I’d say in some ways it suffers from the issue of most “dramedies” – it isn’t quite silly enough to be a totally straight comedy, but it doesn’t dig deep enough into its characters to actually serve as a drama. Again, I’m reminded of Ibiza, which centers on another woman who “likes work too much and has to learn to balance life and work”. It’s a tired trope, and it’s not one that either movie treats with any sense of nuance (work-life balance is all well and good too, I’m not opposed to seeing a movie about it, but these movies present this as a problem stemming from nothing and leading to no specific conclusions). These characters aren’t deep enough, and more importantly their character beats don’t track. They seem to be going through a series of dramatic motions as opposed to a dramatic arc.
I’d be fine, too, with just a straight comedy. I’m reminded of a kid I knew in school who often brought up his dislike for Jurassic Park because “it wasn’t about anything, it was just distraction,” which is, of course, exactly right. But, I mean, look at those raptors. Comedies can be inane (and many inane comedies are actually about something in that inanity) but these movies don’t push in that direction either. That would be too flavorful.
So in the end, I’ll stick to Thumper’s advice and keep this review short. I liked the scene at the beginning where Harry and Rachel were drinking together and bonding but we couldn’t hear what they were saying because they would be too drunk to remember. I thought that was cool.
I give Like Father 4.5 karaoke scenes out of 10 weird Kelsey Gramer backstories.
- Seriously, why so many stories centered on people who are overly committed to their jobs? It’s a weird trope and it targets professional women (yes, this movie was also written and directed by a woman, which, woo hoo (seriously), but it doesn’t mean she isn’t using a trope that subtly targets women who put value on their professional lives). It’s also just a silly trope. Like I said above I’d love to see a movie that took work-life balance seriously, but if people are “too into their jobs” can’t we just say they value their job? The real issue is when the job starts to invade their life in ways they don’t want. That’s probably not totally true – I’m sure there are people who by choice dedicate themselves too much to their job and it becomes toxic, but again that would need a more nuanced approach.
- Also, is there so many movies about jobs being over prioritized because we’re told they’re such a big part of our identity but we’re uncomfortable with that but also uncomfortable admitting we’re uncomfortable with that?
- Finally, I know it’s silly to say I’m not going to write something negative and then exclusively write negative things, but criticism gets to drive the discourse. As I said in the Ibiza review it looks likely that Netflix is going to have a huge say in the flavor of films coming out in the future. We should be fighting now to establish some sort of standard and reward them for putting out films that aren’t just “average”.