The world is changing quicker than ever; “OLD DADS” | MOVIE REVIEW

Last Updated: October 19, 2023By Tags: , , ,

Bill Burr is one of the funniest comedians working today. Along with colleagues Greg Proops and Marc Maron, Burr completes the modern trifecta of thinking man’s comedy, existing as that rare gem, a man who speaks his mind most truly. Never kowtowing to social climates, nor suffering fools, his act reflects his life and how he sees a country and a world that has gone askew. Burr’s voice is strong and honest. With “Old Dads” (his debut film as writer/director), the comedian scores a win, crafting a comedy that skewers the self-righteousness of current America, while surprising with a script (co-written by Ben Tishler) that includes a heartfelt and introspective look at Burr’s emotional issues.

Burr stars as Jack, a married man reaching fifty who shares a successful company with his two best friends, Connor (Bobby Cannavale) and Mike (Bokeem Woodbine). The three pals are looking forward to the easy life after selling their company to smarmy millennial Aspen Bell (a very good Miles Robbins, son of Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon).

Lost in a business world that sees them out of step in the eyes of their former employees (now co-workers), the three men begin to examine their personal lives; the self-examination leads to scenes of good comedy and moments of seriousness not devoid of the occasional cliche.

The scenes between Jack and his wife Leah (Katie Aselton) have been done before, but Burr’s savvy as a writer and performer makes them land. As Leah tries to reign in her husband’s anger issues and lack of ability to verbally restrain himself, Jack pushes back, putting his role as husband and father in jeopardy. Aselton and Burr are very good in their moments together, each actor capturing the natural rhythms of a couple in crisis. While “Old Dads” is a comedy, the two actors play it straight, making the humor organic and the drama in their moments more effective.

Regarding the film’s title, Jack and Leah have a young son and another on the way, while Woodbine’s Mike is having a crisis of becoming a new father with his younger girlfriend, who promised him she didn’t want kids. Already a father with a grown son, Mike has no desire to do it all again. Through Woodbine’s subtle and engaging performance, it comes to light that Mike’s doubts lie within his fears of growing older in a changing world.

Cannavale’s Connor has a little boy as well, but lives in almost constant fear of his wife. Connor’s son is spoiled due to his mother Cara (Jackie Tohn) treating the child with New Age parenting and having the young boy face zero consequences for his bad behavior. Tohn is quite funny in a role representing all that is wrong with that particular segment of today’s parents who think it is wrong to punish a child for doing bad things. The actress plays Cara right up to the line, keeping herself safe from caricature. Cannavale does good work as Connor, showing the desperation of a man pushing 50 who ridiculously tries to look “cool” to the younger generation.

In the design of his characters, Burr captures the frustrations of how some factions of millennials are trying to change how society works, without having a real understanding of why they want change and the self-serving adults who try to keep up.

We live in a time of “retro rage”, where the younger generations take issue with certain artistic representations of the past, but have no desire to understand the context. This way of thinking fuels their desire to push back against anything that doesn’t sit right with them. If one single twenty-something is offended by a film, a painting, or something a celebrity says, they begin a crusade to get everyone on their wavelength. Yet it is considered heresy to push back. Anyone over forty who stands up to this madness is considered out of touch and an old grump who doesn’t “get it”.

Having been a victim of the millennial finger-waving backlash, Bill Burr gets it and lands some good jabs at these types of people (and the older adults who stink of self-importance), but he isn’t mean. His screenplay calls it as he sees it. Of course, there are some exaggerated characters. After all, this is a comedy, but Burr never goes too far over the top (save for an unneeded strip club brawl and a silly cameo from Bruce Dern as an Uber driver).

People stick their noses into other people’s business like never before. The world is changing quicker than ever. Sometimes it’s best to just let it happen and live your life, and perhaps, instead of letting the anger out, learn to laugh at the madness around you.

As a filmmaker and a person, Bill Burr rightfully longs for the days when life was easy, everybody stayed in their lane, and it was okay to enjoy the things you found cool. In 2023, this is certainly a nostalgic vision, but one we should all respect and admire. With his entertaining debut, Burr comedically examines the challenges of adapting to a world that (for better or worse) is constantly changing. “Old Dads” is a very funny film that addresses these modern predicaments with wit, conviction, and the right amount of silliness.