Invisible Dad - 1998
Director(s): Fred Olen Ray
Writer(s): Steve Latshaw (screenplay) / Fred Olen Ray (story)
Cinematography by: Gary Graver
Editor(s): Vanick Moradian
Cast: Karen Black, Charles Dierkop, Daran Norris, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and William Meyers
The film starts off with a score far too familiar for any Goosebumps fanatic. It is super upbeat and happy, yet it is placed over a dark and raining sky during a thunderstorm. Foreshadowing the horror to come. We are quickly handed over to Doug, a teenager in charge of voice over and jokes about his dad and crazy neighbors. He and his dad move a lot, so it is hard for Doug lay down roots. Doug is your regular old Steve Jobs, building computers and designing games where the player must awkwardly hit two keys on the keyboard and pretend that the screen is on. We are also introduced to the janitor at the dad’s company, and I suspect he is a serial escape killer posing as a “normal” human being.
Quick note: Doug says via voiceover that his father scares away his friends when he gets in one of his “moods.” He also mentions that he misses his mom - I wonder what type of mood his father was when his mother conveniently passed away.
This voiceover feels like Doug is polishing his fifteen-minute stand-up set with the unsuspecting viewer he has trapped in a conversation. Landing “jokes” that feel like Doug found them in the recycling bin of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Doughy Doug-Doug finds a machine in his garage and manages to make it work with his technological prowess- plugging the power chord to the power outlet, and it works, Jobs is shedding a proud tear up in Purgatory. And it turns out the machine grants wishes to the user. Any wish. The first one he accidentally travels back in time and cleans up the garage in time to watch the soft-core porn TV show, a la Baywatch. This machine was left behind by the previous homeowner. You know how you can’t keep track of all your wish making machines. I know I can’t.
Quick note: there is a running “joke” of the crazy military neighbor, named Mr. Weiderman (get it?). He thinks everyone is being possessed by aliens and is continually spying on the kids. Also, when Doug wishes for the lead actress of his soft-core porn TV show to appear in his room, she assumes the kids are also aliens. The writer seems a bit obsessed with aliens. Aliens.
Doug gets caught by his dad using the machine and is ordered to destroy it before it gets him in trouble. Doug gets frustrated and wishes his dad would disappear and finally we get to see the titular Invisible Dad and almost half an hour into the film. Well, technically he was an “invisible” dad all along as he is barely in the life of his son. I think I understand what Doug meant by “mood” as he is super relaxed and cracking “jokes” with the fact that he is invisible and that potentially it could never be reversed. He is relaxed and happy because now he can use this new-found power to dispose of anyone that gets in his way, including but not limited to, people that laugh at him because he is using a bee keeper’s hat during a dinner date with Doug’s teacher. Being invisible didn’t stop him from going on a date with his new found victim.
Quick note: I have forgotten to mention Bob the Builder cost playing as Chuck Norris. He is a shady construction worker that is always carrying around a brick. He is paying off a coworker of Invisible Dad to get the new mall construction job. Ground Chuck is ready and willing to do anything to the Dad to get the job.
After one date the teacher becomes the new mom, and she is also full on board with the whole invisibility thing and wants to help. Because this is normal. We cut to stock footage Africa, as we find out that the creator of the wish machine has a partner, a pervert that loves fine gems. While reading a sleazy magazine, he finds out that the machine is still being used and sets his sails back home to stop the use of it. The complexity of the subplots is too much to keep track off. This felt like I was watching two Tarantino films in one. I kept asking my wife to explain to me what was happening. Especially the use of voiceover in certain situations and the use of talking out loud in others. PICK A LANE MOVIE. You cannot have a character say “yes” out loud in one scene and have the voiceover say “yes” in the other.
Ok going to do a quick summary of the events that took place while I was creating a board to track all the subplots. Coworker stole all of Invisible dad’s blueprints and got him fired. The boss called him and threatened to arrest him if he ever sees him again, you know standard procedures for someone that gets sick and cannot work. Doug gets arrested for trying to steal parts for the machine and the escape the jail and the police never go after them because that is also how life works. Pervert Africa man arrives at the front door wearing the same clothes since the audience would not recognize him otherwise and helps the family fix the machine. And the coworker kidnaps the janitor and ultimately signing his death wish.
It all culminates with the presentation of the new mall design. Invisible dad is still invisible, and teacher mom conjures up a plan to stop the coworker from selling his design to Bob the Ginger. The idea is amazing. Honestly, it is, and it far out weights my imagination. I could not have thought about this plan. Ok so let me break it down. They show up at the meeting, and he makes the coworker look foolish with supernatural shenanigans and knocks him out in the bathroom. I mean, Albert Einstein. He gets his body right after he gets his vengeance and delivers a breathtaking speech to the woman that threatened to arrest him if he ever steps foot in her company again. He says, “does are my blueprints, actually.” Wow. Pulling at the heartstrings. Chuck Norris is stopped by the serial killer janitor with the use of his own brick (karma), and the mall deal is made, just another day for Invisible Dad. Oh yeah, I forgot about Mr. Weiderman – turns out he wasn’t crazy. There are aliens among us, and one of them is his wife. Cool. The end.
Quick note: before you click out of this review, examine the poster. Two things: 1. that is not the kid from the movie and 2. they never go to a fair or even eat a hot-dog. What the fuck.
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