My Father the Hero
Reviewed by Jenny LeComte
Rating: 8 Beans
fter appearing in scores of brilliant French language films, teaming up with Andie McDowell in the charming "Green Card', Gerard Depardieu made a fatal career mistake. While he managed to escape bad press resulting from an old rape charge, he couldn't get away with making a bad movie.
"My Father The Hero'' is a bad movie. A very bad movie. So bad, in fact, that I am taking it back to Civic Video and demanding a refund. It sucks.
The plot hinges on a substance even thinner than gossamer. Get this. A bumbling French Dad in serious need of a tummy trimmer (Depardieu) turns up in New York to take his 14-year-old daughter Nikki (Katherine Heigl) on an island vacation. Nikki, who is a spoiled little brat and a compulsive liar, tells everybody on the island that her dad, Andre, is her lover. Upon seeing a 14-year-old bimbo in a white thong swimsuit walking hand-in-hand with a fatso who's pushing 50, fellow vacationers are disgusted.
Pleased with the sensation she's caused (Nikki, it's your skimpy apparel they're admiring, not your talent for storytelling), the little minx continues to stretch the truth like rubber. She develops a crush on the island's token boy toy, a cute American boy called Ben, and appeals to his sympathy. Ben (Dalton James)listens attentively as Nikki tells him she's a former drug addict, her Mum was a hooker who ran away with her pimp and her Dad went to jail for armed robbery. Oh, and Andre is her sugar daddy and he's insanely jealous.
Ben retaliates by taking Andre waterskiing and steering the speedboat into the wake of a container ship. When Nikki has a row with her Dad over a trifle, she runs off to Ben's house and drags his parents in to her web of lies. Andre, wondering where his 14-year-old daughter is gallivanting at four in the morning, turns up at Chateau Ben and gets punched on the nose for his trouble.
If Andre was any kind of father at all, now would be the time to punch Ben back, grab the errant Nikki, take her back to the hotel room and thrash her to within an inch of her life. But no. He forgives his sweet little girl for telling filthy lies about him and agrees to play along with them.
Nikki is finally unmasked when she throws another tantrum, decided to go out windsurfing near some jagged rocks, gets stuck and calls for help. The hapless Ben and the unfortunate Andre both swim out to her rescue. Ben makes it and Andre gets a cramp in his leg.
"Oh, Daddy!" cries Nikki as Andre is hauled into Ben's boat.
"Daddy?" Ben asks, giving Nikki a filthy look. I guess the crunch is outta the cookie.
You can guess the rest, so why should I bother telling you? Oh, OK. If you really care, Nikki says sorry and ends up exchanging saliva with Ben on a moonlit beach. Andre smiles paternally and director Steve Miner zooms in for yet another look up Nikki's skirt. Steve, this girl is supposed to be 14 and this is supposed to be a PG-rated romantic comedy. It's not a remake of "Lolita". Andre, meanwhile, proposes to his English girlfriend (Emma Thompson, what the hell are you doing in this pathetic excuse for a movie?)The other island-hoppers meet similarly stereotypical ends. The bore with the glasses finds another bore with glasses. The nymphomaniac divorcee cops off with the doctor who saved Andre's life after he nearly drowned. The guys playing in the psuedo-salsa band keep playing psuedo-salsa till you're about ready to puke. Etc. Etc. Ho hum.
Don't get me wrong. I still love Gerard Depardieu. He was great as the sculptor Auguste Rodin in "Camille Claudelle" (one of my fave French tear-jerkers) and brilliant in "Cyrano De Bergerac". But while Depardieu can pull off a dramatic role with aplomb, he cannot do comedy. In this movie, he was about as funny as a dead horse in a swimming pool.
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