In the realm of comedy, timing is everything. It’s not just about the punchlines and the gags; it’s about understanding the pulse of society and delivering humor that resonates with the audience. Bill Burr, a seasoned stand-up comedian known for his prickly humor, ventures into the directorial arena with his debut film, “Old Dads.” Sadly, this foray into filmmaking proves to be a misfire, as the movie fails to find its footing amidst the changing tides of modern comedy and societal norms.
Burr’s film explores the lives of three aging fathers: Jack (played by Burr himself), Connor (Bobby Cannavale), and Mike (Bokeem Woodbine). These men, once kings of their domain, now find themselves struggling to adapt in a world that they feel has become overly sensitive and politically correct. The film portrays their longing for a bygone era, a time when they could revel in their masculine bravado without fear of repercussions. However, as the world evolves, they are forced to confront the harsh reality that their outdated attitudes no longer hold sway.
At its core, “Old Dads” attempts to tackle the theme of aging and the challenges that come with it. This narrative thread, familiar to fans of Judd Apatow’s films, is woven with the struggles of masculinity in the face of changing societal expectations. The protagonists, former purveyors of a throwback jersey store, are a symbol of the past – relics of a time when their behavior was tolerated, if not celebrated. Their discomfort with the present, particularly the rise of social consciousness and cancel culture, forms the crux of the story.
In the hands of a skilled director and screenwriter, this premise could have been a launching pad for insightful social commentary and sharp, relevant humor. Unfortunately, “Old Dads” falls short of these expectations. The film’s script, co-authored by Burr and Ben Tishler, feels more like a compilation of tired grievances than genuine observations. Burr’s attempts at humor often devolve into ranting, with jokes that lack nuance and creativity.
One of the film’s major pitfalls lies in its inability to evolve beyond its protagonists’ bitter worldview. While it’s not uncommon for comedies to feature characters who resist change, there’s a delicate balance that must be struck. The audience should be able to empathize with the characters, even if they are resistant to growth. However, Jack, portrayed by Burr, exudes a bitterness that verges on hostility. His complaints about societal changes, while intended to be humorous, come across as spiteful and reactionary.
Moreover, the film’s attempts at self-deprecating humor are overshadowed by its persistent negativity. Burr’s character, Jack, occasionally pokes fun at himself, but these moments are drowned out by the overwhelming barrage of complaints about the world around him. The humor, instead of being a tool for self-reflection, becomes a shield behind which the character hides, refusing to confront his own shortcomings.
Additionally, the film’s supporting characters, Connor and Mike, while well-intentioned, lack depth and dimension. They exist primarily as sounding boards for Jack’s grievances, rather than fully realized individuals with their own arcs and growth. This lack of character development further hampers the film’s ability to engage the audience emotionally.
In the context of contemporary comedy, which is increasingly characterized by wit, inclusivity, and social awareness, “Old Dads” feels like a relic from a bygone era. The film’s insistence on clinging to outdated notions of masculinity and its resistance to embracing change mirror the struggles of its protagonists. However, unlike these characters, the film fails to find its redemption arc.
In conclusion, “Old Dads” stands as a missed opportunity. With its talented cast and the potential for incisive commentary, the film could have been a relevant addition to the comedy genre. Instead, it succumbs to the pitfalls of bitterness and negativity, alienating the audience rather than inviting them into the characters’ world. As viewers, we deserve comedies that challenge our perspectives, make us laugh, and, most importantly, make us think. Unfortunately, “Old Dads” falls short on all these fronts, leaving audiences longing for a comedy that truly understands the complexities of our modern world.