Hollywood has a long and proud tradition of remaking French films badly (The Assassin, My Father The Hero), but on paper at least Ivan Reitman's Father's Day seems to stand a better chance than most. There was always a risk that, together with Parenthood writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, the Private Parts director would turn Les Compères (which starred Pierre Richard and Gerard Depardieu) into a goo-dripped pile of sentimental, quip-clogged Americana. But surely the genius of Robin Williams and Billy Crystal would be enough to carry the film through? Sadly the answer is "No".
Despite the comic genius of the leads, it's a dumb, family-friendly farce, a buddy-buddy road movie held together with a thin plot and a sad bunch of exaggerated slapstick routines. You just know Crystal and Williams will team up, and that the two fathers-elect will stumble and joke their way to a clap-happy conclusion.
Surprisingly, Crystal's role in all this is a fairly straight one, and he duly bounces around within the confines of his scripted character. Williams, on the other hand, indulges his familiar improvised mania - - a rap skit here, Elvis impression there, a thousand voices, every one in defiance of the nervous, wimpish character he's supposed to be playing. Unfortunately, neither of them have time to notice that their brand of "yeeoooww, I've spilled hot coffee in my lap" comedy isn't really hitting home.
An unashamed star vehicle, fleshed out with shallow visual comedy, Fathers' Day is so blandly unimaginative that a long and contented life as an in-flight feature surely calls. But cack is cack, be it on the ground or at 35,000 feet.
Reitman, Williams and Crystal should have turned in a fine comedy. But Father's Day ain't it: they could have improvised a better film in their sleep.