Like Father

Year: 2018
Directed by: Lauren Miller
Starring: Kristen Bell, Kelsey Grammer, Seth Rogen

WRITTEN BY COREY HUGHES

Actor-turned-director Lauren Miller, notably known for her comedic roles in Superbad and Sausage Party, makes her feature-length debut with the Netflix backed drama Like Father, a take on the ‘estranged father’ sub-genre that shouldn’t be confused with Father of the Year; another Netflix original film that is, shall we say, an insult to cinema.

Like Father tells the story of Rachel (Kristen Bell), who is introduced in the opening scene taking a business call in her wedding dress. It’s her wedding day, her future husband stands at the altar awaiting his bride; looking worried as she’s later than expected. Unbeknownst to Rachel, her estranged father sits in the crowd on her big day, learning about his daughter for the first time as her boss officiates her wedding – telling stories about Rachel’s character. But when Rachel’s phone slips out of her dress and falls to the ground, her husband leaves her stranded at the altar; frustrated at his fiancé’s life-intruding work ethic. As she spots her long-lost father in the crowd, Rachel’s day can’t seem to get much worse…

At the film’s most warming and tender scene, Rachel and Harry spend a night drinking Manhattan’s and discussing theoretical principles on how to eat pizza on a park bench in the hope of rejuvenating their fractured relationship. Sadly for Rachel, drunken decisions lead to the pair waking up sore-headed on a cruise across the Caribbean; both stranded at sea and forced to rekindle the extinguished flame that is their relationship.

The strongest aspect of Miller’s debut is her encouraging depiction of Rachel, a strong-willed woman in an esteemed position at an advertising firm in New York; a positive role model for all female viewers. Yet that also leads to the main problem of the movie, in the way that Miller obliviously contradicts her achievement in bringing a headstrong, independent woman to the fore by promoting her relentless work-ethic as a discouraging trait; a trait that leads her to being the butt of a bad joke between her fellow cruise attendees. There’s an argument that Rachel’s constant phone-checking is a metaphor (albeit on-the-nose) for our obsession with digital media consumption, but when this message is being banged over our heads for the entire duration of the movie, it undermines the sincerity of bringing a successful female protagonist to the centre of the narrative.

Even if you disassociate the politics from the story, the film also fails on a tonal level. Miller has a hard time juggling between the heavy melodrama of childhood trauma and the comedic levity, the latter relying on cliched humour such as fat people falling and awkward first encounters for laughs. The comedy isn’t that funny, and the more dramatic moments fail to penetrate beneath the surface; as if the movie wants to be more of a Caribbean cruise commercial rather than an emotionally provocative comedic drama about estranged parenthood.

Ultimately, Like Father adds to Netlfix’s collection of unspectacular and forgettable flicks. There’s nothing new to be seen here, but I have faith that debutant Miller has much more to show in her career.

COREY’S RATING:

2-5

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Reel Women: August UK Releases

Written by Elena Morgan

Welcome back to Reel Women, a monthly feature where we highlight the films being released in the UK that are written and/or directed by women. What’s the perfect way to spend this ridiculously hot British summer we’re having? Spending time in an airconditioned cinema watching some films made by women of course! This August there’s something for everyone with documentaries, rom-coms and a couple of YA adaptations, proving that that genre is still here.

3 August

Damascus Cover
Directed by: Daniel Zelik Berk
Written by: Daniel Zelik Berk and Samantha Newton

A spy (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) struggles on an undercover mission in Syria when he falls in love.This is Samantha Newton’s first feature length writing credit. Trances, the short film she wrote, was shown at Berlinale in 2008.

Like Father
Directed by: Lauren Miller Rogen
Written by: Lauren Miller Rogen

When workaholic Rachel (Kristen Bell) is left at the altar, she accidentally goes on her honeymoon with her overachieving father (Kelsey Grammer) who suddenly came back into her life.

Lauren Miller Rogen is an actress who has appeared in films like Superbad and 50/50. This is her feature length directing and writing debut.

10 August

Dog Days
Directed by: Ken Marino
Written by: Elissa Matsueda and Erica Oyama

A group of interconnected people are brought together by their lovable dogs.

Dog Days is Elissa Matsueda’s fourth feature film. Erica Oyama is an actress, producer and writer who’s previously written episodes of The Eric Andre Show, Fresh Off the Boat and Burning Love, which she received an Emmy nomination for in 2013.

The Darkest Minds
Directed by: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Written by: Chad Hodge

Based on the book of the same name by Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds is about a group of teens with powers who fight back against the adults who fear them and want to control them.

This Jennifer Yuh Nelson’s first live-action film after previously directed Kung Fu Panda 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3.

17 August

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Directed by: Susan Johnson
Written by: Sofia Alvarez

When Lara Jean (Lan Condor) gets a crush, the way she deals with it is to write the boy a love letter, but she never sends them. Then one day all her letters get sent out and they wreak havoc on her love life.

Susan Johnson’s is a producer and director, her previous film Carrie Pilby is currently on Netflix and is well worth a watch. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is Sofia Alvarez’s first film credit and has previously written episodes and worked as an executive story editor on the TV show Man Seeking Woman.

Distant Constellation
Directed by: Shevaun Mizrahi

A documentary about the inhabitants of a Turkish retirement home, telling anecdotes about their lives.

Distant Constellation is Shevaun Mizrahi first feature-length documentary, which she also edited, after previously working as a part of the camera and electrical department on multiple short films.

The Guardians
Directed by: Xavier Beauvois
Written by: Xavier Beauvois, Marie-Julie Maille and Frédérique Moreau

When war breaks out in France in 1915, the women are left behind to work on a family farm so that their loved ones will have something to come back to.

As well as writing The Guardians Marie-Julie Maille also edited it. She’s edited over a dozen short and feature-length films.

22 August

Load Wedding
Directed by: Nabeel Qureshi
Written By: Fizza Ali Meerza and Nabeel Qureshi

Load Wedding is a romantic social comedy starring Fahad Mustafa and Mehwish Hayat.

Fizza Ali Meerza also produced Load Wedding and it is her third produced screenplay.

The Spy Who Dumped Me
Directed by: Susanna Fogel
Written by: Susanna Fogel and David Iserson

Audrey (Mila Kunis) and her best friend Morgan (Kate McKinnon) get caught up in an international conspiracy when they discover that Audrey’s ex-boyfriend (Justin Theroux) is actually a spy.

Susanna Fogel is a writer, director and producer. The Spy Who Dumped Me is her second film.

24 August

One Note At A Time
Directed by: Renne Edwards

Documentary about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and how musicians use music to try and piece themselves together.

One Note at a Time is Renee Edwards’ first feature-length documentary. She’s edited over twenty different films and TV shows including episodes of Dispatches and Panorama.


That’s 10 very different films released in the UK this month, both in cinemas and on Netflix, that are made by women. If you get the chance to see any of them, we’d love to hear what you think of them.