Like Father, written and directed by Lauren Miller Rogen
Seven out of 10
In a world where people deal with their smart phones – at least in the lands where they have them, which is most of the earth – more than fifty times per day, as statistics show, this motion picture is relevant and highlighting a major problem.
Indeed, the heroine, Rachel aka Kristen Bell, is so obsessed and addicted to her phone that in the opening scenes she talks on it, just before she is supposed to get married, mentions to a client – or a prospect – that this is her special day, lingers on the damned thing even after the alarm is sounded.
The guests, relatives, groom, the boss who has also the role that in regular matrimonial ceremonies is held by a priest are all waiting, just as the protagonist still talks for a few more minutes to some work contact that is so important as to compromise her would be family.
She finally walks in, the boss-reverent talks about her dedication to her work, the exceptional employee that she is, while the woman gives her bride bouquet to one of the bridesmaids, who, as she grabs the flowers, drops the smart phone on the floor.
The groom is flabbergasted by the image of the cursed symbol, hidden in haste by his would be spouse, talks to her angrily about the many times they have discussed this and how it is evident she cannot get over this problem and therefore he is desperate, beyond hope and thinks it is hopeless.
The heroine tries to reason with the man, but she is obviously the epitome of a major problem, people in the developed world – and some of the emerging countries – work hard to advance in their careers, at times they are forced to by circumstances- for instance, if they live in London or another extremely pricey city, they have to spend all the time and work and still be unable to afford many of the exuberant rents, never mind buy a flat.
But concentrating so much on work is not the way to happiness – of course, there is the exception of those who have found their meaning and therefore work at what they love – for positive psychology demonstrates that it is better to be time affluent than wealthy, the limit for merriment seems to be around $ 75 k per year in the US, beyond this figure, more money do not bring significant changes in wellbeing levels anyway.
The groom departs from the wedding, which is cancelled, but was attended by the father of the bride, Harry Hamilton, who had abandoned his daughter when she was five, came to see her and now becomes the other main character of the comedy.
His presence and the plot reminds one of Tony Erdmann, a sensational, outstanding motion picture, only the two are not in the same league, for whereas Like Father is rather forgettable, Tony Erdmann may yet become historically relevant- it seems that the sacred monster, Jack Nicholson, was so moved by the great film that he wants to do a remake.
When her father comes to her flat, Rachel does not wish to see the man who has been so despicable, loathsome to abandon her as a child, but after he insists, she agrees to have a drink with him in a bar, where they both get so drunk as to find the next day that they are on board a…ship.
For the honeymoon, the groom has arranged for the couple to take a cruise holiday, on a ship that would stop in Jamaica, where the young woman plans to get off, take a plane back home and return to work without any delay – she is addicted to her job and there seems to be nothing anyone can do about it.
Like Tony Erdmann, who comes all the way to Romania to try to rescue his daughter from overwork, a collapse that to some extent does happen, when she arranges for a nude party, where her boss is invited, Harry Hamilton is attempting to save the child he had wronged so much.
There are some touching moments, interesting aspects in this comedy with accents of drama, but overall it does not have a tremendous impact, the humor on the cruise and off it is not overwhelming, even if karaoke, game shows, quiz challenges and a trip to Jamaica is thrown in.
The real life husband of the director –screenwriter, Seth Rogen plays Jeff with ease, but his presence in the film and on board the ship cannot compensate for the rather light material, insufficient to make audiences laugh- the metascore stands at a feeble 52, which means critics did not like it, in general, and the score given by the public, 6,1, is not stratospheric either.
The point that the motion picture makes is notable though, Harry Hamilton accompanies his daughter in what is probably one of the most beautiful spots in the world, in Jamaica, near a beautiful waterfall, with pristine nature, apparently clean, resplendent water where other bathe, while the workaholic woman is busy with her…phone.
The estranged father throws the smart phone in the water, making the heroine crazy, wild with rage, she jumps in the water, now that she lost her most precious property, which has all her information, data, contacts and she finds it, working “through a miracle of technology”.
However, she gets along well with Jeff, the Canadian who has divorced a few months back and tries a rebound on the cruise, they are attracted to each other, spend the first part of one night in his room, when the alarmed parent comes shouting on the corridor, worried that his child has not returned.
Rachel is aghast, for she tells angrily to her father that he cannot take off for twenty-six years, return after this terrible elopement and then make scenes because she, an adult now, decides to spend the night, have sex with a man.