Starring Elojah Wood. Rated 14A
Imagine reuniting with your absent father after 30 years and discovering that he’s Ginger Baker, but worse. That’s the initial premise of Come to Daddy, a fabulously entertaining comic thriller poised somewhere between Alfred Hitchcock and vintage John Waters.
Having made the trek to Daddy’s remote pad overlooking the Pacific (actually Tofino), it takes about one minute of screen time for Norval (Elijah Wood) to realize that the old man is a drunk, violent mental case, embodied by Canuck warhorse Stephen McHattie in a role he’s been perfecting for about 40 years now. The film’s twists and turns eventually bring Martin Donovan into the frame, playing way against type as a man who welcomes the chance to have his fingers dislocated—that scene should prompt the most walkouts—along with A Field in England’s Michael Smiley, evolving into this generation’s Brion James as he adds yet another uniquely odious psycho to his CV. One of his more memorable speeches uses British politician Michael Heseltine as the punch line, almost certainly for the first time since Spitting Image was on the air. It’s to everyone’s credit that Come to Daddy is willing to throw away such a big moment on something so pointlessly obscure.
Equally heroic is the film’s outrageous violence, which demands the Straw Dogs response out of wimpy Norval, who, we learn, is an L.A.–based DJ apparently discovered by Elton John and who owns one of 20 gold phones designed by Lourdes. “Now there’s only 19,” says McHattie after accidentally on purpose dropping it off a cliff.
Garfield Wilson, Madeleine Sami, and Sunday Service–man Ryan Beil (as a “tittyholic” motel worker) round out a cast that probably couldn’t be much better, while director Ant Timpson makes his impressive feature debut after producing prefab cult hits like The Greasy Strangler. But it’s Wood who deserves the most praise. As a producer he consistently makes far-out choices (Mandy, Color Out of Space), and as an actor he dares to show up with a haircut even worse than his permed Frodo.