Talking about the differences between the Gen Z folks and those before them, infamously called Boomers, seems to be the fad right now, and stand-up comedian Bill Burr capitalises on it for his directorial debut Old Dads. Don’t let the title fool you; it’s not a story about 50-plus fathers who are eager to spend time with their kids only for them to be left disheartened by the teens’ challenging behaviour. It’s about a trio who, after losing their business and much more, find themselves as aliens in the modern world filled with people trying to evolve into better versions of themselves. As a one-liner, Old Dads might feel like the perfect recipe for some good old punching below-the-belt humour. But, what this translates into is a far cry from that as it tries to be in everyone’s good books, and what we get is a cliche-filled, lacklustre attempt at a comedy.
In Old Dads, Jack (Burr), Connor (Bobby Cannavale), and Mike (Bokeem Woodbine) are a group of friends/business partners, living the perfect life yet missing the good old days when political correctness was synonymous with satirising people who were too rigid in their political orthodoxy adherence before it became a serious political movement. It’s when they lose their throwback jersey company to a millennial named Aspen Bell (Miles Robbins), who fires everyone born before 1988 and installs cameras at his employees’ houses without their consent, that the lives of our trio go on a downward spiral, taking a toll on everything from their relationships to their fatherhood.
Old Dads (English)
Director: Bill Burr
Cast: Bill Burr, Bobby Cannavale, Bokeem Woodbine, Katie Aselton, Reign Edwards, Jackie Tohn
Runtime: 104 minutes
Storyline: Three dads lose everything they hold dear and blame it on people evolving to be a better version of themselves
Old Dads’ DNA feels very similar to the very strand of life that made Bill Burr and the pioneers before him a name to reckon with in the stand-up scene. They’d often take digs at topics ranging from parenting and road etiquette to most of us being glued to the phone, without crossing the border that would make them sound like the elders of our families who blame the younger generation for everything. But the thing about DNA is that we share 50% of our genes with the humble banana. Similarly, despite it coming under the umbrella term humour, stand-up and comedy films are different beasts, and humour working in both streams isn’t mutually exclusive.
Old Dads reminded me of About My Father, which came out earlier this year. That film was also written by a stand-up comedian (Sebastian Maniscalco), and despite featuring Robert De Niro, it failed to make a mark for the very same reason – a funny stand-up show doesn’t necessarily have to translate into an entertaining film. What works more against Old Dads is its one-dimensional characters who have a change of heart by the time one can finish saying the film’s name, and they feel like anything but organic. The film’s motive, which changes from turning these three men from victims of an unjust world to the last humans on the planet to understand ‘Political Correctness for Dummies’, doesn’t really either. If only the film had stuck to its shenanigans ways instead of randomly trying to find a path of righteousness, we would’ve at least laughed more before a part of us called us out for it. Instead, Old Dads feels like a series of poor dad jokes that only the ones saying out loud would enjoy.
Old Dads is currently streaming on Netflix