There’s nothing like getting trapped on a boat to deal with decades of Daddy and Abandonment issues. That’s exactly what’s going down in the new Netflix movie “Like Father.”
Kristen Bell stars as Rachel, a high level ad exec glued to her phone who gets left at the aisle after taking a call during the ceremony. Apparently that’s a no-no. Who knew? Kelsey Grammer stars as her estranged dad, who sneeks into the wedding hoping to use the joy of the big day to start a reconciliation. They eventually meet up and do some daddy-daughter bonding over shots, as you do. The movie makes a liberal expansion of cruise ship boarding rules and the next thing you know, Rachel’s taking her honeymoon cruise not with her husband but with her dad.
Yeah, it’s a stretch. But it’s all to get them stuck on a ship together in the middle of the Caribbean with only the clothes on their back.
Like Father then sets sail on a somewhat shallow tale of self-absorbed bitterness, recriminations, and, ultimately, forgiveness. Helping the journey along are their dinner tablemates, noticeably cast to include multiple ages, races, and sexual orientations (clearly the algorithm was consulted by the writers). Along the way the gang bonds together and helps nudge Rachel and dad together, all while enjoying all the things mega cruise ships have to offer including drinks, surfing, drinks, excursion guides supplied with weed, and drinks. So from that perspective we wholly approve of the movie.
But if you haven’t guessed by now, this movie is a string of clichés strung together in a very clichéd manner. The characters are all flawed yet all likeable. The uncomfortable situation is common and the result predictable.
Disembark Too Early
And the last act is extraneous and unnecessary. It all takes place off the ship, with two of the tablemates helping Dad move because Rachel, despite her revelation on the ship that she needs to step up and be more ‘present,’ can’t be bothered to make it. Of course, eventually she realizes the man she needs in her life isn’t the guy she was set to marry or her cruise ship hookup (played by Seth Rogen). It’s her dad. Family is important. Career should be just a means to an end. You know the drill. But this whole part takes 30 minutes to play out. It’s as if they needed to pad out the script to make it qualify for a movie instead of a one-off special.
And that’s sad, because the movie has an important, if well-tread, point to make. We would rather have seen them bond over on-board surfing and another round of cocktails on the ship.
This movie is a nice distraction, something nice to enjoy with family to reinforce how much you appreciate each other, or inspire you to get over yourself and work on strained relationships. Perfect for a rainy day, but don’t waste a good summer day or night staying in to watch.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
A Banana Daiquiri. It’s light, fruity, and makes you think you’re on the deck of a ship. At the same time it won’t get you drunk and will just blend in with the other cocktails you’ll have over the course of the day. Nothing special, but nice in the right moment.