Review: 'Like Father' Is the Kool and the Gang of Netflix Movies
When my wife and I hired a DJ for our wedding, we had one very specific request: No wedding standards. No “Electric Slide,” no “Celebration,” no Pointer Sisters, no Journey or bad Stevie Wonder (as defined by Jack Black in High Fidelity). In fact, we curated our own wedding mix made up entirely of songs that we loved. We were like, “Here’s a CD. Just play this.” I don’t remember exactly what was on it but I was young and moody, so probably a lot of Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown and Ben Folds and Elvis Costello and my wife probably had a lot of Van Morrison and Dylan and Indigo Girls and Mary J. Blige and Sam Cooke and Tori Amos. They were songs that we loved and it was our wedding, goddamnit, and those are the songs that we wanted.
And wouldn’t you know it, about 15 minutes into the dancing portion of our wedding, the DJ totally ignored us and started playing goddamn Kool and the Gang. And the thing is, as much as it might have raised our hackles: It was the right call. I mean, it was not music that we liked, but with parents and grandparents and cousins and uncles and aunts and kids and also alcohol, lots and lots of alcohol, the crowd moved from milling in corners onto the dance floor and they ended up enjoying themselves in a way that they could not have if the DJ was trying to get the crowd going with “Subterranean Homesick Blues” or “Watching the Detectives.”
Sometimes, you just gotta go with the basic crowd-pleasers.
Netflix’s Like Father is basically the “We Are Family” of Netflix movies, and that’s not at all meant to be a dis. It’s a general audiences crowd-pleaser, a father-daughter comedy wrapped in a romantic-comedy formula and belted out to absolute perfection by Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammar. There is not an original moment in the entire film, but it hits all the right beats and goes down easy, like a cold PBR on a hot summer day. Like Set It Up, it is quintessentially Netflix, the perfect movie to watch on your laptop on a lazy Saturday night. It will not change your life, but it will entertain and charm you for a couple of hours without insulting your intelligence.
Kristen Bell stars as Rachel, a workaholic so attached to her phone that her fiancé dumps her at the altar because she couldn’t be bothered to walk down the aisle on time because she was busy with a business call. As her fiancé is dumping her, Rachel’s father, Harry (Kelsey Grammar) — whom she has not seen in 26 years — can be seen sneaking out of the ceremony. Later that night, however, he musters the courage to show up at his daughter’s apartment to invite her out for a drink. She hates him for abandoning her, but she reluctantly agrees. They end up getting smashed at a bar, and they basically wake up on her honeymoon cruise, stuck with each other for 10 days with nowhere to go.
Anyone who has ever seen a movie — any movie — knows exactly how this goes: It’s your typical comedy of remarriage formula, only instead of a romantic pairing, it’s a father and daughter. They fight. They get to know each other. They realize they’re just alike (hence “Like Father”). They bond. There’s even an airport scene. Not one trope goes subverted.
Still, it’s very sweet, and it’s very endearing, even if it is completely frivolous. Bell and Grammar have impeccable chemistry together, and lesser actors, no doubt, would have had difficulty selling Like Father. Casting those two was the best choice writer/director Lauren Miller Rogen could have possibly made in this entire endeavor, although it is also fun to see her husband, Seth, appear as a square Canadian school teacher who Rachel uses to make her father jealous (she probably got a thrill out of casting her husband against type).
Ultimately, Like Father is not a great movie, but it is a great at being exactly what it wants to be: A light, fun, heartfelt and inexpensive comedy that fits perfectly within the Netflix romcom milieu.
Header Image Source: Netflix
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