Reviewing ‘Old Dads’ Movie: Bill Burr and Co’s Struggles with Political Correctness – A Misfire

Bill Burr’s ‘Old Dads’: A Cliche-Filled Attempt at Comedy

In the era of generational differences, stand-up comedian Bill Burr takes the opportunity to explore the disparities between Gen Z and the infamous Boomers in his directorial debut, ‘Old Dads’. Contrary to its misleading title, the film is not about middle-aged fathers seeking solace with their children, only to be met with teenage rebellion. Instead, it tells the story of three friends who, after losing their business and more, find themselves struggling to adapt to a modern world where personal growth is highly valued.

At first glance, ‘Old Dads’ appears to be a recipe for below-the-belt humor. However, the film falls short in its attempt to please everyone, resulting in a lackluster comedy filled with cliches. The main characters, Jack (Bill Burr), Connor (Bobby Cannavale), and Mike (Bokeem Woodbine), live seemingly perfect lives but yearn for the old days when political correctness was synonymous with satirical criticism of those rigidly adhering to political orthodoxy. Their lives take a downward spiral when they lose their throwback jersey company to a millennial named Aspen Bell (Miles Robbins), who not only fires anyone born before 1988 but also installs cameras in employees’ homes without consent. This loss affects their relationships and their roles as fathers.

‘Old Dads’ carries the DNA of Bill Burr’s stand-up comedy style, which focuses on topics like parenting, road etiquette, and society’s attachment to cell phones. However, the film fails to strike the delicate balance between humor and sounding like the older generation that blames millennials for everything. While Burr’s comedic DNA may be rooted in these themes, he overlooks the fact that stand-up and comedy films are distinct beasts, and what works on stage may not translate well to the big screen.

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This film reminds me of ‘About My Father’, released earlier this year. Written by another stand-up comedian, Sebastian Maniscalco, the movie starred Robert De Niro but failed to leave a lasting impression for the same reason. A funny stand-up routine does not necessarily guarantee an entertaining film.

What further hinders ‘Old Dads’ is its one-dimensional characters who undergo abrupt transformations that feel forced rather than organic. The film’s underlying motive, which shifts from portraying the trio as victims of an unjust world to being the last humans who understand “Political Correctness for Dummies,” feels disjointed and lacks cohesion. Had the film embraced its comedic antics instead of trying to find a path of righteousness, it might have generated more laughs before leaving us somewhat unsatisfied. Instead, ‘Old Dads’ falls flat, offering a string of lackluster dad jokes that may only amuse those who dare to speak them aloud.

‘Old Dads’ is currently available for streaming on Netflix.

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