I’m not sure whether Elijah Wood actively stepped away from stardom after Lord of the Rings, but here we are. He has produced some very interesting movies (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Greasy Strangler and Mandy are all great), but he also has an acting career independent of this as these don’t seem to overlap. For example, he didn’t produce this one.
Norval is out in the countryside to meet his father for the first time since he was a little kid. While the initial meeting seems warm, things turn worse soon enough as ‘Daddy’ isn’t as pleasently surprised by Norval’s arrival as Norval might have wanted.
Well, it turns out that Daddy isn’t the real dad after all. He was a criminal, a former partner of the real dad, who had locked the real dad in the basement with the other members of the former gang, who wanted to get the money the real dad had stolen from them before Norval’s birth.
There’s a scene early on in which Norval tries to impress the fake dad by telling him about the famous people he knows from the music industry. The problem is that the fake dad hasn’t even heard of these people, so Norval claims to be close friends with Elton John, which lets the fake dad call Norval’s bluff by claiming to have been the driver for Elton John in the past. Norval doesn’t really know his dad, but still seeks his approval. It just so happens, that this is an elderly, hardened criminal, who is not interested in such games and would have been unfazed by these stories anyhow.
The fake dad can’t really stand Norval. They are just from very different worlds. Norval is pretty much a joke on a modern rich kid, who wants to be an influencer and therefore tries his hardest to play the role. He likes to show his nonexistent success through material possessions. This is part of his well-sculpted image, which doesn’t have anything behind it. He wants to be a trend-setter, but can only play one.
We only learn of the fake dad’s real nature after he tries to kill Norval, but drops dead of a heart failure instead. The problem is that he wasn’t the only criminal around. The other members of the gang were also there, lurking around waiting for Norval to leave or the real dad to spill the beans on the money. I guess this initially saves Norval’s life. Maybe the criminals see him as an opportunity to find the money as well. It was actually given to Norval’s mother by the father.
The inability of Norval to even identify his father raises some questions about the nature of family. With modern DNA technology, we actually can know who are the actual parents, but how much does that actually amtter? Norval does his best to bond with he man he thinks is his father. Why? Why is this important anyhow? I haven’t spoken to my father in a very long time. He does reach out to me every now and then, but the last time I met him (by chance) I just lied that I was in a hurry and left. So, I don’t feel that we need our parents in our lives (well, after a certain point). Still, Norval, who hasn’t even had a father in his life since very early childhood, feels like he does. Is this part of wanting to feel normal? He can’t really explain it to himself either.
If Norval would have known how to find his father, would he have done so? It was the father who reached out to Norval. It just happened to be an inopportune time. Does the father need his son any more than vice versa? The mother remains distant in this. Norval contact her, but we only hear his side of these conversations. Near the end Norval tells her he feels he’s been an obstacle for his mother’s happiness as he has never allowed her to move on. Is this true or does he just feel guilty even though the mother could have done so at any time, if she wished? How much does a son have power over a situation like this, anyhow?
One of the other criminals tells Norval that his mother was actually a prostitute. It’s hard to say how Norval takes this new piece of information, as he is already in shock. I guess in the movie it’s supposed to be insulting, but I don’t feel that way. Sex work is work and if you’ve ever looked into who the people in the trade are, you know that most of them are fairly normal. Of course, you need a certain amount of courage and/or desperation to take up such a job, but in societies where prostitution is legal, they are pretty normal people. Still, I guess calling one’s mother a whore is still seen as kind of bad. Especially as the character does go into a fairly deep (and weird) description of the whole situation.
While I’ve used the word ‘fun’ way too many times in this series to describe various movies, I wouldn’t use it here. This isn’t exciting in the same way as Ready or Not, or many of the other movies I’ve covered thusfar. It’s still worth a watch, but for very different reasons. While ‘fun’ isn’t the right descriptor here, it is still funny, but the comedy is more awkward and less raucous then the movies which rely on comically shocking violence for this purpose.