My Father the Hero (1994) Blu-ray Review: Gerard Depar-don’t. Please.

The amazing world of French cinema is unquestionably a unique artform unto itself. So it the remaking of French features for American audiences, for that matter. Alas, the latter skill is something very few people have ever been able to master, and has mostly ever resulted in a heap of bad ’90s movies floated into theaters under one Disney distribution label or another. Which brings me to My Father the Hero ‒ Disney’s lamentable 1994 attempt at remaking the 1991 French comedy, Mon père, ce héros ‒ as helmed by director Steve Miner (Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken) for release under Disney’s Touchstone Pictures company.

If Miner’s name seems somewhat familiar to you, then there’s a fairly good chance you are something of an ’80s horror movie aficionado. Prior to crossing over into more “mainstream” work, Miner had directed the first installments of the House and Warlock franchises, and had worked on the first three iconic Friday the 13th films (the second and third installments of which he directed). When viewed with that particular fact in mind, My Father the Hero almost feels like some sort of horrific joke upon society; a deliberately crafted disaster marketed as a family-friendly comedy just to make intelligent audiences squirm.

Retaining the star of the original film, the one and only Gérard Depardieu, Miner’s My Father the Hero centers on the embarrassment-heavy antics of a divorced father (Depardieu) who takes his spoiled, rebellious, annoying, 14-year-old drama queen of a daughter with him on an innocent vacation to the Bahamas. But his daughter ‒ as portrayed by a very jailbait Katherine Heigl ‒ has other things on her mind, such as elitist 17-year-old jock Dalton James, who makes her heart go all aflutter and stuff. Unfortunately for Gérard (and the audience), Heigl’s psychotic compulsive liar character proceeds to pass her father off as her sugar daddy.

Mind you, this is the exact same concept of the original French film. But, as anyone who has ever watched Beau-père, Murmur of the Heart, or Un moment d’égarement (or any of their various remakes) knows, they simply look at things differently there. When Un moment d’égarement was (first) remade as Blame It on Rio, it had the carefree, cocaine-fueled world of the ’80s to protect its racy subject matter. Once the ’90s rolled around, however, America had found itself in something of a deep, confused quagmire as it struggled to grasp the concepts of harassment and political correctness.

Needless to say, it doesn’t help matters much that Katherine Heigl’s developing 15-year-old frame is shown off so much in this family-friendly PG flick to the point where one might scream “Child exploitation!” today. I mean, I’m sure just about every teenager who was into girls that saw the film didn’t object. As did certain people who probably belong on the national sex offender registry. Speaking of pedophiles (or, hebephiles and ephebophiles, if you want to get politically correct about it), My Father the Hero‘s running gag (emphasis on “gag”) is that everyone on the island believes the oblivious Depardieu to be a creepy jailbait banger thanks to his offspring’s tall tales.

The fact that doughy Depardieu ‒ sporting long greasy locks whilst in the midst of Hollywood’s unsuccessful ten-year campaign to get American audiences to accept him ‒ kinda looks the part only makes Miner’s cruel joke all the more apparent. He even breaks out into a song during the resort’s Talent Night, choosing to perform “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” whilst completely unaware that everyone thinks he’s a predator. Unfortunately, that’s about all My Father the Hero has to offer in the way of humor. Maybe it was OK to joke about it in 1994, before the Internet ruined innocence near and far by opening us up to various real life horrors of the same kind.

When viewed today, however, in a time where of sexual assault scandals and #MeToo movements, it simply isn’t funny. Plus, it’s just a plain dumb movie on top of that. Also appearing here are the embarrassed faces of Lauren Hutton, Faith Prince, and Stephen Tobolowsky. Director Steve Miner’s parents appear as an outraged elderly couple, and there’s also an uncredited cameo by Emma Thompson, whom I’m sure has since left this one off of her résumé.

Previously released to Blu-ray by Mill Creek Entertainment as a cheapo budget release, My Father the Hero returns as a Special Edition issue from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. Served up in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio via an MPEG-4 AVC 1080p codec, the film looks pretty darn solid throughout, and the English DTS-HD MA 2.0 soundtrack comes through crisp and clear. English (SDH) subtitles are included for this release, as is a newly-recorded audio commentary by director Steve Miner. Open matte analog-sourced (Laserdisc?) trailers for the main feature and Indian Summer (also available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber) conclude the list of bonus goods.

Unless you enjoy the sight of 15-year-old Katherine Heigl exposing her butt cheeks in a skimpy thong (which Disney shamelessly used to market this family comedy in the trailer, mind you) or watching a portly Gérard Depardieu make an utter fool of himself both on-screen and off, you may want to skip this one.

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Luigi Bastardo

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