The relationship between a father and his daughter is always hard to replicate. It takes a lot of guts to try and even simulate it. There aren’t many bonds like parent and child – which is why hiring two strangers to bring this pairing to life is such an alien concept. However, Netflix’s new movie, Like Father, tackles this challenge head on – but does it work?
Like Father follows Rachel (Kristen Bell) and Harry (Kelsey Grammar), an estranged father and daughter. When Rachel is left at the altar for being a workaholic, she gets drunk and takes her dad – whom she has not seen for 26 years – on her honeymoon cruise with her. What then follows is a rollercoaster of emotions, as well as a lot of product placement regarding Royal Caribbean Cruises.
It takes a lot for Kristen Bell to not be her charming self. It also takes a lot for me to not associate Kelsey Grammar with Frasier. Yet, in Like Father, Bell is miserable (but in a charming way) and I never thought about a 90’s TV show once. I did, however, notice the convincing, explosive chemistry between both lead actors.
Not in a weird way, obviously – Grammar is playing her dad – but, it was enough for me to think they were, at least, loosely related in real life. Don’t get me wrong – I know that Kelsey and Kristen are good actors. I also know that I didn’t expect them to be that good.
The bond between Rachel and Harry swayed between volatile and angry, to placid and friendly, in a split second. One minute, Rachel would be screaming at her father, the next, Harry is sat crying about how he left her 26 years ago and how it was the greatest mistake of his life.
Obviously, that entire scene was written better for the movie, but the rawness and the suddenness of it all made it feel even more real. Arguments aren’t planned, which can sometimes make acting feel stiff and over rehearsed when dealing with a carefully orchestrated tiff. However, this movie seemed as though all fights, even the little bickering, came from the mouths of a middle aged father and his teenage daughter. Everything is bickering and whining and tactical silence, only to be followed by an understanding chat where they both seem happy as Larry.
If this kind of behaviour doesn’t feel like being a teenager, I don’t know what does. Even if you’re not estranged with your parents, your adolescent attitude makes you act as thought you are. It’s all shouting and flirting and spiting your dad just because you can. This is part of growing up.
Kristen Bell grows up on screen. She is 31, but she acts about 14 in the movie. Obviously she’s mature: she has a full time job, she’s organised and she’s smart. However, she also acts like a child – she likes to have fun on her terms and with no one to hold her back.
The actual movie itself was bland. Not a lot happened, which is good as it helps you to focus on the relationship between Rachel and Harry, but also makes it drag a bit. All they really do is go on excursions for 90 mins, which is great if you’re planning a holiday, less so if not.
The plot is basic, taking cues from pretty much every single dubious relationship with a father, and making itself predictable. There is only one plot point that isn’t predictable, and it did surprise me. However, the surprise isn’t worth watching the movie for.
It’s not often that I watch a movie that is so slow paced and actually like it. This movie is like the cutest snail you’ve ever seen. Boring, but nice to look at for a while.
Like Father is a movie that isn’t quite unique, but isn’t really an exact replica, of any other father-daughter movie. It has heart, it has humour, it has its ridiculously slow moving plot. But it also has two actors who carry the entire film like absolute Trojans. That, and that alone, is reason enough to watch this movie.