Lauren Miller’s Like Father is the latest original film from Netflix. The streaming service seems to bombard us with an original movie every few days and they come and go like TV episodes. Remember the time when the tag ‘Netflix Original’ signified excellence? Neither do I. The rare films that are genuinely good (Okja and Mudbound come to mind) get buried along with the rest of the bilge soon due to abundance. In general, Netflix movies end up in the range of ‘watchable’ to ‘terrible’ since that’s what happens when one favours quantity over quality (but who cares if it gets you more subscribers?). Like Father, one of Netflix’s latest offerings, is just a notch above average.
It is certainly not bad. Indeed, it can be reasonably enjoyable at times. But that is mainly because of the cast, in particular Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammar, who are both splendid and help elevate what is an ordinary story. Bell plays the role of Rachel Hamilton, a workaholic ad executive who gets abandoned at the altar because she takes her work to even her marriage. As her fiancé is waiting for her to exchange vows, she is busy with a call outside. The horrified would-be husband chickens out and leaves.
This is only the first shock of the day for Rachel. Amid the ruckus, she sees her estranged father Harry Hamilton (Grammer in easily the best performance in the film) leaving in haste. Harry had left Rachel (and her mother) when she was only a kid. Unable to deal with the humiliation, she erupts at work and spends a drunken evening with her father, who wants to revive their relationship. An intoxicated Rachel coerces Harry to a cruise in the Caribbean that was intended as a honeymoon for her. On the cruise, the father and daughter bond and reconnect and reach a renewed understanding and so on.
As you can probably tell, Like Father is about as original as the remake of a classic movie. Granted, that’s not always a deal-breaker. An unoriginal film can be good too if it has something substantial to say. But most of Like Father involves Rachel and Harry indulging in fun cruise activities and competing with supporting characters (one played by Seth Rogen, who is also the director’s husband). There are bits of conversation whenever they stop to rest and that’s when the movie shines. More dialogue would have helped the film infinitely, because all the actors really do give convincing performances. It would not have improved the dreadfully dull script Bell and Grammer are saddled with, but at least this film would have been more like a movie and less like a prolonged advertisement for the Royal Carribean Cruise. Oh, I actually googled it and turns out it is an actual cruise. Even Hindi movies are seldom that unsubtle.