Heathers meets Dead Poets Society WITH A NUDE ROBIN WILLIAMS!
Well, not quite. While Robin Williams
does play a poetry teacher, and there is the faking of a suicide note (which leads to the dead teenager's posthumous popularity)
, there is much, much
more to the film than that.
Robin Williams is Lance Clayton, a poetry teacher, as noted above. However, unlike John Keating, his class is very unpopular and he does not inspire his students at all. He is also a struggling writer who has not been able to get anything published. His girlfriend, Claire, is a pretty young art teacher, but she seems to be spending a lot of time with the handsome and charming English teacher Mike. And as if all that wasn't bad enough, his son, Kyle, is a surly, porn-obsessed, misogynist, Jerkass
. One day, Lance comes home to find that Kyle has died from autoerotic asphyxiation. In order to give the boy some dignity in death, Lance pens a suicide note before summoning the authorities. By chance, that note is published in Kyle's school newspaper, instantly transforming him into a misunderstood cult icon among the impressionable student body. Lance then creates a fake journal which he claims was Kyle's, and is suddenly faced with the possibility of all the fame, fortune and popularity he ever dreamed of, if he can only live with the knowledge of how he got there.
Much like Psycho
, most of the film's plot is driven by a Spoiler
that happens early on in the film. However, the film is not old enough for this to be a case of It Was His Sled
/ All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game"
This film was made in 2008 and opened at Sundance in early 2009, and is now on DVD and Blu-Ray. It was directed by Bobcat Goldthwait
, who also directed Shakes the Clown
(in which Robin has an uncredited cameo) and Sleeping Dogs Lie
, a romantic comedy where a girl reveals she fellated a dog in college and her relationships start to fall apart (We don't make these things up, folks
This film provides examples of:
- The Ace: Mike, the resident Cool Teacher who is successful in ways Lance isn't (popular with students and staff, managed to get a story published in The New Yorker, has a close relationship with his kids).
- Actor Allusion: Robin Williams plays a poetry teacher at a private school where a student commits suicide.
- At one point, one of his colleagues has written a short story whose title Robin identifies as being a reference to Isaac Asimov's I, Robot. Robin Williams starred in the film adaptation of Asimov's Bicentennial Man, but you can forgive someone for considering it an allusion.
- Alcoholic Parent: Andrew's unseen mother.
- As Himself: Bruce Hornsby.
- Asshole Victim
- Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: Apparently activities like rocket building and watching movies doesn't appeal to the son.
- Caught with Your Pants Down: Lance catches Kyle performing Autoerotic Asphyxiation in the beginning. The second time is much less fortunate.
- Contemptible Cover: Some people who otherwise would have seen this film were driven away by the poster (above), since no one seems to have told the designers that "red text on a white background" has become synonymous with extremely horrible movies. Also, considering the last Robin Williams film to use the "red text on a white background" cliche was License To Wed... thank goodness the DVD cover is much different.
- Erotic Asphyxiation - How Kyle dies, as said above.
- Hey, It's That Guy! - Voice actor Tom Kenny has a cameo as a television producer. Kenny and Goldthwait were high school friends and performed comedy under the name "Tomcat and Bobcat," which is where Goldthwait acquired his nickname (and no, it's not the source of the name of Kenny's best known role).
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Kyle has absolutely no redeeming qualities.
- Male Frontal Nudity - Robin Williams strips down to only his socks for the final scene where Lance jumps off a diving board after revealing the truth about what happened to Kyle. Not meant as Fanservice or even Fan Disservice, but symbolic of how he's stripped off everything from his old life and become reborn. Most viewers still call it Fan Disservice (unless of course they're really into Robin Williams). Incidentally, this is the only part of the film interviewers seem to want to talk about with Robin and Bobcat. Robin and Bobcat are more than happy to answer, however.
- May-December Romance: Lance is considerably older than Claire, depending on whether Lance is supposed to be around the same age as Robin Williams or not. He even states that she wasn't even born when he was a high schooler.
- Mood Whiplash - Claire sexually teasing and fondling Lance is followed right by Kyle's death.
- Most Writers Are Writers: Lance Clayton is a struggling author.
- Never Speak Ill of the Dead
- Never Trust a Trailer - The trailer makes it seem like it's just about Robin Williams raising an extremely difficult son. They do show clips of Robin's nude pool dive from the ending, but they make it seem more comical than it really is. On the other hand...
- Pac-Man Fever - All the technology in the movie is contemporary to the time it was filmed, 2008, yet Kyle's game of choice is Doom. Then again, DOOM is still incredibly popular today.
- Post Mortem Conversion: A father recasting his worthless son as a tragic idol after he dies from Autoerotic Asphyxiation.
- Only Sane Man: Andrew, Kyle's only friend who is the only one unconvinced by his "journals" since he knew Kyle well enough to know that it's completely unfitting.
- School Uniforms are the New Black: Andrew. As mentioned on the commentary, this is because he dislikes going home because of his alcoholic mother.
- Shout-Out - Lance quotes Simon Pegg on modern zombies ("Death is an impediment, not an energy drink").
- Teens Are Monsters - Kyle.
- News Articles Always Spoil - Anyone who read any news articles on the film before they saw it would already know that Kyle dies.
- The Netflix blurb also spoils that point.