Father of the Year is a Netflix original movie about dads behaving badly. When Ben (Joey Bragg) and Larry (Matt Shivley) get into a drunken debate about who’s dad would win in a fight, neither of them ever expected it to go anywhere. It turns out that Ben’s dad, Wayne (David Spade), really takes it to heart and things only get worse from there (in every sense of the word).
Ah, the Happy Madison logo, the one thing at the start of any film that guarantees you are in for a terrible time. And Netflix’s original movie Father of the Year is absolutely no exception. I went into this with my eyes open. I knew that the movie was going to be a mess, but I really wasn’t fully braced for just how awful this film was in every sense of the word.
It feels a little unfair to actually call Father of the Year a movie. It might have a lot of the familiar things we expect in films, like moving pictures and sound, but to allude to this as art in any way, shape or form would be supremely disrespectful. From the very outset, it shows itself to be a mean-spirited turd of a film and only goes downhill from there. When it started I already thought that the premise was stupid, but I had no idea that the execution would be even worse.
The characters are some of the most contemptible people committed to screen. Nearly every one of them was either a terrible person or a poorly-drawn caricature only there to nudge the wafer-thin plot forwards by a millimetre or so. Father of the Year seems to be entirely devoid of any jokes or passing moments of humour, instead thinking it’s funny to get all of the characters to say “fuck”. Look, an old lady said fuck! Look, now a little boy is being told to “shut the fuck up”. Oh, wow, the man in the shop said fuck! Not content with just being unfunny, the film decides to ramp things up a bit more. I’m not sure if it’s trying to be edgy and ironic, or it’s just genuinely this horrible. It feels like an intolerant uncle leaning over to tell you offensive jokes, and then laughing at his own bigotry.
Things just seem to happen in Father of the Year, as it takes a very flimsy idea and stretches it to 90 minutes of pure hell. Along the way, things are padded out with a poorly conceived and even more poorly realised romance. There’s one of Ben’s friends who joins a racist motorcycle gang for nothing more than an attempt at a joke. For some inexplicable reason there’s a scene where we see David Spade fall out of the back of a truck naked, and then he gets involved in a medical trial and ends up with breasts. None of it really makes sense, none of it really hangs together, but nobody seems to have cared. It’s like somebody scraped up all of the worst ideas off the floor of a movie studio bathroom and just threw them all into Father of the Year.
I’ve tried to think of something positive to say about Father of the Year and I’m really struggling. I suppose the only thing that I can come up with is that it has made me long for David Spade’s halcyon days in Grown Ups 2.