REVIEW: Like Father (2018)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of Netflix’s Like Father — Directed by Lauren Miller Rogen.

You know how a lot of comedy television shows have that episode where the characters go on vacation somewhere warm? Think Hawaii or the like. But then when they have that vacation it is at the exact worst time because the characters have either just broken up and now have to engage in couples activities, or they, for some reason, are upset with one another but now have no way to get away from each other. That is Like Father — a film about reconnecting by unplugging with the plot of a two-episode TV-show story arc, but which, somehow, has three major stars attached to it.

Lauren Miller Rogen’s Like Father follows Rachel Hamilton (played by Kristen Bell), a workaholic who never goes anywhere without her phone, after she is left at the altar by her nondescript fiance. Harry Hamilton (played by Kelsey Grammar), Rachel’s estranged father, attended the wedding ceremony catastrophe even though he was never invited.

It is a tough time for Rachel, and she needs a drink, which her estranged father offers her at a bar. Their late night drinking spree ends with them on a cruise ship, on which Rachel and her fiance were supposed to have their honeymoon. Now Rachel is there with her father, who just wants to have a good time with his daughter, but she is more interested in numbing her emotions by drowning herself in work.

In a way, Like Father is the perfect product for Netflix. It has two great leading cast members — Kelsey Grammar and Kristen Bell — as well as a supporting role played by one of America’s favorite comedy stars — Seth Rogen, the director’s husband. On top of all of that, it is an inoffensive dramedy that allows for plenty of hijinks. Although the film isn’t much to write home about, it is an adequately enjoyable film that I think is the ideal skip-to film once the viewer has finished watching something else.

The film doesn’t quite make a decision about what kind of film it is. Its mix of tones — an essential element of a dramedy — doesn’t quite satisfy. In the film’s strongest moments, it allows for some serious exchanges between Grammar and Bell’s characters, but those moments are drowned out by the aforementioned cruise ship hijinks.

Although seeing Bell and Grammar prepare for, and participate in, a karaoke competition is quite fun, scenes such as those have a tendency to lessen the impact of the more serious scenes, I found it. The father-daughter pair also participates in a honeymooners cruise ship game show, which prompted me to write in my notes whether that was actually a thing that happens on cruise ships. But the funniest scenes is probably the one where Seth Rogen — playing Jeff, a Canadian love interest for Kristen Bell’s character — declines a joint and then says that he has never smoked anything.

Like Father is a mature dramedy with few cheap laughs, but strong performances that elevate the film. But Miller Rogen doesn’t allow the film to veer strongly in any one direction, opting instead to focus on game shows, karaoke, and other antics. It is fine, but not much more than that.

I found it to be odd how the serious moments were blended in with game shows and karaoke performances, but the film, as it is, is entertaining enough and passable, even though it is just another random Netflix film that the streaming service will skip to after you just finished binge-watching the latest season of Arrested Development, or the like. And even if the film isn’t quite what you are looking for, then at least it gives you a pretty enjoyable scene of Grammar and Bell singing Styx’ Come Sail Away.

6.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen

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