A typically underwhelming Happy Madison production, Father of the Year follows David Spade’s Wayne as he sets out to prove he can beat up the father (Nat Faxon’s Mardy) of one of his son’s (Joey Bragg’s Ben) best friends (Matt Shively’s Larry) – with the movie also detailing Ben’s efforts at wooing a local girl named Meredith (Bridgit Mendler). It’s clear right from the get-go that Father of the Year contains exactly the kind of bottom-of-the-barrel, lowest-common-denominator feel one has come to associate with Happy Madison’s output, as the movie, directed by Tyler Spindel, has been suffused with jokes and gags of an entirely disposable and hopelessly unfunny nature. (There is, for example, a bit early on involving a pool that Wayne has built in the bed of a neighbor’s pickup truck.) It’s perhaps not surprising to note, then, that there’s just never a point wherein one is drawn, even partially, into the silly characters’ ongoing exploits, which is a shame, ultimately, given that the picture undeniably does boast a handful of surprisingly charming performances. (This is especially true of Bragg and Mendler’s appealing, engaging work as Ben and Meredith.) The end result is a completely forgettable Spade vehicle that could’ve been worse, admittedly, and yet it’s difficult not to wish that the Happy Madison folks would put just a modicum of effort into their releases.
** out of ****