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In appreciation and recognition of Seattle's long and illustrious film history, we are proud to partner with Scarecrow Video to bring you weekly reviews of historical Seattle films. Each week we will showcase a new movie, with special emphasis on how these films show Seattle's most filmable locations.

World's Greatest Dad (2009)

Robin Williams stars as a meek, Bruce Hornsby-loving, single father named Larry who aspires to become a novelist even though his manuscripts have been rejected numerous times. He makes a living teaching English at a Seattle high school and has a disrespectful, porn-addicted son (played by Spy Kid Daryl Sabara) who attends the same school. Larry is also dating the school's art teacher, who doesn't want to publicly admit their relationship. After a sudden, unexpected tragedy Larry's put-upon life sees a sudden change and he finds rapid success as a writer, a lover and a dad. But these triumphs are all predicated on a series of lies and fabrications that our protagonist must eventually confront. Written and directed by stand-up comic turned filmmaker Bobcat Goldthwait, World's Greatest Dad is a very dark comedy somewhat similar to the films of Todd Solondz, especially Welcome to the Dollhouse, but not quite as grim. The movie is anchored by a sympathetic and vulnerable performance by Williams in his most restrained mode. This unsentimental film avoids typical sentimental Seattle locations, as there are no father/son trips to the Space Needle or romantic strolls through Pike Place Market. Instead, most of the movie's action transpires at the F.A. McDonald School in Wallingford, which was mostly unused when this film was shot but is actually re-opening this year as a K-8 public school. Many scenes take place inside the classrooms and there is also some action in the parking lot, and basketball court. Other locations used are an exterior shot of the Guild 45th Cinema (with Freaks and His Girl Friday on the marquee), a restaurant that I think might be the Matlby Caf, and The Wallingford Center. When father and son drive to school together I believe the exteriors were filmed in either the Magnolia or the Sunset Hill neighborhood and, during the drive, there is a roundabout joke that could have been shot at numerous Seattle intersections. There are a few other locations, including a TV station and a golf course, that I don't recognize but there is one scene that is 100% unmistakable Seattle filmmaking. A distraught Williams breaks down in tears in front of a porno magazine stand located on Spring Street between 3rd and 4th Avenue and he is consoled by none other than Krist Novoselic in a brief cameo appearance.
--Spenser Hoyt

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