For his feature film directorial debut, long-time producer Ant Timpson (Turbo Kid, The Greasy Strangler) explores the themes of generational division and the dangers of family secrets with his madcap caper Come to Daddy that fits perfectly in Timpson’s quirktastic oeuvre of projects.
Starring Elijah Wood, Come to Daddy is centered around 30-something man-child Norval (Wood), who was beckoned to the home of his estranged father (Stephen McHattie) by letter, unsure of just why his absentee pops has decided to reach out now after all these years. Once he arrives, his father proves himself to be a callous and insensitive lush, which directly conflicts with Norval’s own emotionally driven tendencies. Things come to a head between the father and son, which is where Come to Daddy’s narrative takes a surprising left turn, and to say more about the story would be a huge disservice to the film. But essentially, what it all boils down to is that Norval’s dad isn’t exactly a stand-up guy, and because of his father’s misdeeds, Wood’s pretentious character finds himself mixed up in all kinds of homicidal shenanigans that he is wholly unprepared to deal with.
With its sun-drenched opening card that feels plucked right out of the ’70s, it’s evident from the get-go that Timpson is tipping his hat to several bygone cinematic eras in Come to Daddy. And had I never known a single thing about the film or those involved, and someone told me this was released during the 1990s, I would 100 percent believe them, with Timpson’s storytelling stylings giving off some early Coen brothers and Tarantino vibes. Come to Daddy’s wildly provocative script from Toby Harvard works best when it is leaning into its oddball sensibilities, and makes for yet another compelling character piece for Wood that feels unlike anything we’ve ever seen from the multifaceted actor.
Despite the fact that Norval himself is a bit abrasive—he’s an entitled, haughty braggart who isn’t above lying to try and make himself seem more impressive to his dad (and not to mention, has the hipster haircut du jour that just insists upon itself)—Wood's performance in Come to Daddy adds a lot of humanity to his character, making Norval someone I don't want to necessarily hang out with, but you feel for him because you can see the cracks in his “I’m way too cool” façade, making his plight feel relatable, even if you don’t necessarily drop any “blazing beats” like Norval does.
While I do think the first act of Come to Daddy takes a little too long to get going, once the film’s second act hits, and Timpson shows his hand as a director, that’s when the comedy thriller really begins to find its groove, and we see Norval contend with a bevy of bad guys, half-naked swingers, and one badass chick named Precious (Ona Grauer), making Come to Daddy a truly unexpected crime-fueled romp that I very much enjoyed. Also worth noting is that the film features two completely bananas, cringe-inducing gags involving genital trauma and a facial wound that actually made me gasp out loud.
There’s no doubt that Timpson has made a profound impact on the landscape of indie genre cinema as a producer over the years, and Come to Daddy makes for an impressive feature-length filmmaking debut, and I do hope we continue to see more from him as a director in the near future.
Movie Score: 4/5
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