Like Father movie review

Like Father is a sweet, charming comedy that sidelines romance to tackle family. It’s the kind of film we don’t see nearly enough despite everyone’s family being a little dysfunctional. And there’s no dramatic declaration of love scene in an airport either so that’s a win all around.

The title is interesting as it’s a play on the old saying Like Father, Like Son. It’s based on the outdated notion that the man is a workaholic and the woman is focused on family.

Kristen Bell (The Disaster Artist) plays Rachel, a woman so focused on work and nailing a big account, she delays walking down the aisle to handle a mini emergency. Rachel may have love like feelings for her fiance, Owen, but it’s obvious her career is the one true love. And that’s even before learning Rachel’s wedding ceremony is being performed by her boss. It’s not all that surprising that Owen has the epiphany of always coming in second and calls the wedding off. The bigger shock for Rachel is that her long absent father Harry (Kelsey Grammer, 7 Guardians of the Tomb) was in attendance.

like father movie review - kelsey grammer, leonard ouzts and blaire brooks

Deciding to drink it out instead of talking things over, Rachel and Harry reconnect over drinks. Rachel awakens from her hangover to remember inviting Harry to come along on her honeymoon cruise. Harry is dutifully understanding of the situation and walks on eggshells while Rachel is buried in her cell phone. It’s hard to close work deals when cell reception is so spotty.

For Rachel, she’s got a big decision. Accept this opportunity to reconnect with Harry or write it off as too little too late. Bell and Grammer have terrific chemistry and really sell the strained father/daughter relationship. For a family drama/comedy, there’s a surprising lack of manipulatively emotional scenes. The film earns its audience investment.

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Director/Screenwriter Lauren Miller Rogen shows the humor in life without forcing silly situations.  The laughs come from the more intimate, real moments when people act like people instead of punchlines.

It’s refreshing to watch a filmmaker so confident in their work they don’t have to beg for laughs. That’s most obvious with Rachel and Harry’s table mates. Rogen doesn’t take easy shots on the gay couple (Paul W. Downs and Marco Naggar), the black couple (Leonard Ouzts and Blaire Brooks) or the elderly couple (Mary Looram and Anthony Laciura). It’s nice to see the diversity. Better yet when it’s used to enhance the film instead of being a crutch for lazy writing.

like father movie review - blaire brooks, kristen bell, kelsey grammer, leonard ouzts, zach appelman, paul w. downs

One subplot that doesn’t ring true is when Rachel has a rebound fling with fellow passenger (Rogen’s husband Seth Rogen). Seth Rogen delivers his usually every guy performance, but it feels like stunt casting in a film that didn’t need it. Another misstep is the underwhelming song choice for the hyped karaoke night. It’s fun watching Bell and Grammer sing, but it’s a rare overly cheesy moment.

Lauren Miller Rogen teases a big reveal and even that manages to avoid being overly dramatic and is surprisingly low-key. Rogen also makes the film more than one long commercial for a cruise line. Utilizing some of the cooler features/attractions is unavoidable, but it’s a character driven film first and cruise pitch second.

like father movie review - kristen bell and kelsey grammer

At 98 minutes, the film flies by faster than an excursion that just got interesting. Like Father is a smooth and steady viewing experience that comfortably relies on its cast and confident storytelling to make for an enjoyable cinematic getaway.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Photo Credit: Emily Aragones/Netflix

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