Getting Even With Dad Review
Pre-double digit age, I was a kid whose frequent cinematic viewings primarily centered around The Wizard Of Oz and The Sound Of Music - yes, I was very, very happy child. Of course, Star Wars was thrown in there now and again, and while this was all well and good, I do look back on my formative years and remember Ted Danson in such classics as Three Men and a Baby, Three Men and a Little Lady and the whose-sperm-is-it-anyway gem, Made In America. Now though, I must question my seven-year old judgement…
It’s 1994, or perhaps sometime in 1993, when Mr Danson receives the script for Getting Even With Dad. Cheers is but a distant memory, a faded beer stain on an old table top. He has a couple of options, should he chose the straight-to-TV comedy about a man and his psychic budgie or the Macaulay Culkin starring com-drama, about a boy who goes to live with his father, only his father is planning a coin heist so that he can buy his own bakery and go straight. It was always going to be tough, but the aforementioned actor chose the latter option.
Clearly, Danson hadn’t actually bothered to read the script before he took on the part. A skim through was all he needed to grasp the plot, and he probably figured Culkin equaled box office gold. Had he actually read the thing, he would have noticed its turgid, plodding plot, lack of characterisation and a concept that was firstly uninteresting and secondly, badly played out. For what it’s worth, we have Timmy (Culkin) being dumped at his father’s apartment by his mother because she wants some time on her own. Ray (Danson), Timmy’s Dad is planning a coin heist and is unwilling to back out, so goes ahead with it. When Timmy finds out about his Dad’s criminal activities, he seeks out the coins and hides them. He then brides his Dad into taking him out on a series of fun-filled activities. If his Dad abides, he’ll tell him where the coins are.
The idea about a father/son relationship being built in the circumstances the film wants it to be, doesn’t work for comedy, at least the family orientated comedy this film ultimately is. You can’t help but feel sorry for Culkin’s character – his Mum is wayward, her partner doesn’t want anything to do with him and either does his Dad Ray, who to top it off, is a convicted criminal. Ray is way too mean spirited to warrant any sympathy or sentiment, and any supposed comedy between the two falls flat. Culkin doesn’t help matters, understandably he isn’t anywhere near his bubbly persona of Home Alone - indeed, why should he be, however, while this fits with the character, he isn’t half as enjoyable to watch.
Director Howard Deutch can’t do much with the paper-thin plot, and struggles to find any laughs. Glenne Headly turns up as a detective and love interest, but her role barely registers – she’s dull and can’t pull off being a cop. Pretty much all Deutch has got to shout about, or should that be ‘loud whisper’, is the performances of the bubbling, cartoon-like accomplices played by Saul Rubinek and Gailard Sartain. Their highlight is when Timmy draws them a fake treasure map, and physical mishaps ensue.
Getting Even With Dad is tired filmmaking. It isn’t funny, and director Deutch cannot fuse the quite complex family ideals into the straight-forward concept.
The film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and anamorphic enhanced. The picture is very good throughout showing off vibrant colours and detail. Skin tones are natural, and the pristine print has a distinct sharpness with no noticeable digital problems. There isn’t many dark scenes, but the disc handles these well.
The sound is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, but it feels awfully mono. Dialogue is clearly audible and clear, however, it isn’t well separated for surround purposes. Dolby Pro-Logic II fills the sound spectrum out, but it hardly helps matters.
Theatrical Trailer - Presented in anamorphic 1.85:1, with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.
Getting Even With Dad will work for kids, I’d hope. The concept of the film might have sounded appealing as a ten word sentence pitched at a producers/writers meeting, and having Home Alone star Culkin on-board might have helped get the film green lit, but the effort isn’t there, and the film falls dreadfully flat on its face. Over 12’s need not apply.
Last updated: 18/04/2018 00:16:30