Father's Day (2011) Movie Review: Too Modern and Too Hip for Its Own Good

An entertaining, twisted effort that can't quite find its groove.
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Produced by the famed Troma Enterainment, Father’s Day is a pretty middling affair. The flick comes written and directed by Winnipeg-based filmmaking collective Astron-6 and attempts to slap itself headlong into the grindhouse and late-nite movie genre, using resolute cheese, bad effects, and exaggerated sex and violence to plead its case.

The trouble is that Father’s Day is simply too knowing. While other films have enjoyed success by committing to the B-movie principles and embracing the clich├ęs, rarely does a moment go by within this picture that the actors don’t seem to be winking at the camera. The comedy is too contemporary for a film with such a retro vibe and the cornball plot is undermined as a result.father's day

Father’s Day opens with a series of rather serious scenes. There is a “Father’s Day Killer” on the loose, apparently, who rapes and murders fathers. Father John Sullivan (Matt Kennedy) and Father O’Flynn (Kevin Anderson) know that there’s more to the sordid tale than that and understand that there are some theological implications at play. In order to stop the demonic slayer, Father John seeks out the services of one Ahab (Adam Brooks).

Ahab lost his father to the slaughterer and is out for revenge. His sister, Chelsea (Amy Groening), tags along. Twink (Conor Sweeney), a male prostitute, also lost his father (Billy Sadoo) to the killer and joins the party. When it turns out that the murderer is actually a demon from the netherworld, things get even more intense as our heroes track down the scoundrel.

As mentioned, Father’s Day gets off on an interesting foot. The film’s opening sequences are filmed in a relatively frank style and things get pretty penetrating in a hurry. The rape and murder of Twink’s father is tough to watch, as are scenes involving the father and son trying to figure out their relationship. The tone is strange given the overall construction of the movie, but it isn’t long before the Astron-6 team delightedly blows it all to pieces.

In terms of gore and violence, Father’s Day is off the page. It is hard to keep track of all the horrid death scenes and soupy make-out sessions (trust me), but they do provide most of the movie’s entertainment value. For the most part, the violence is rather over-the-top. There are some scenes that may bother more woozy viewers and there are numerous bloody and non-bloody penises on display.

The retro feel is evident from the intro sequence, which sets Father’s Day up as a picture showing as part of a late night series of movies on some remote cable channel. There’s actually a mock advertisement for an upcoming flick called Star Raiders. And as with most kicks at the grindhouse can, this movie scrapes up the visual presentation and dumps plenty of pops and hisses in the audio track.

Unfortunately, all the glorious gore and retro feel gets bogged down as the film attempts to be modern. As good as Kennedy, Brooks and Sweeney are as the protagonist trio, their attempts at comedy feel at home in The Hangover more than they do here. In place of calculatingly hammy acting jobs is a glinting and nudging sense of pseudo-awkwardness, making Father’s Day a little too “cool” for its own good.

So as strange as it feels to consider a movie that features oodles of full frontal male nudity, a stomped-on hellspawn baby, a chainsaw-wielding stripper, maple syrup humour, and one hell of a hallucinogenic Jesus, Father’s Day isn’t dilapidated enough to make for a classic grindhouse picture. Too modern and too hip for its own good, this Astron-6 film is amusing but ultimately forgettable stuff.

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