Written and directed by Lauren Miller, Like Father follows busy workaholic Rachel (Kristen Bell) as she embarks on an impulsive Caribbean cruise with her estranged father (Kelsey Grammer’s Harry) after being left at the altar – with the narrative detailing the bonding that inevitably ensues between the two extremely disparate figures. First-time filmmaker Miller generally does an effective job of drawing the viewer into the less-than-innovative storyline, with the familiarity of her screenplay and its various beats, for the most part, made easy-enough-to-overlook by a proliferation of agreeable elements – including a pair of absolutely fantastic lead performances from Bell and Grammer. (The latter is especially strong here as a character with far more depth than one might’ve initially suspected.) The chemistry between Bell and Grammer’s respective characters certainly goes a long way towards smoothing over the picture’s sporadic missteps (eg some of those fellow passengers are just a little too wacky for comfort), while the growing emphasis on genuinely heartfelt moments ensures that Like Father grows more and more compelling as it progresses. (This proves especially true of Harry’s trajectory and his grief over the loss of a longtime friend.) The end result is a fairly by-the-numbers drama that’s often elevated by its individual components, and it does seem apparent that Miller is (hopefully) destined for bigger and better things.
*** out of ****