I thought I was watching a douche commercial when this movie began. With its shot of two people on a beach and its cloying “These Are The Best Times” song playing in the background, I assumed that a regular dosing of Superdad was going to refresh my most secret of places. Sadly though, I was left with that not so fresh feeling and even more incredibly, by the time Superdad complains to his daughter at her wedding that he smells, I was wishing that this was a douche commercial!
Superdad was the Walt Disney’s early 1970s attempt at something. I’m still not quite sure what they were up to and since the movie reportedly sat around for a year before Disney cleansed themselves of it, I rather doubt they knew what the point of all this was either. It’s a simple enough story to be sure. So simple that it was kind of redone in She’s Out Of Control with Tony Danza. Which ought to tell you how truly simple it was.
Bob Crane of Hogans’ Heroes fame plays a father who is very protective of his daughter. She’s about to go off to college, but he’s concerned that the gang she’s hung out with her whole life are a bunch of aimless losers. Even worse is her boyfriend Bart (Kurt Russell) who dad is convinced is what’s keeping her daughter from going to the prestigious Huntington College as she is instead choosing to stay with Bart to go to the less prestigious City College. What dad doesn’t know is that it is actually Bart who is choosing to stay at City College instead of going to Huntington because Bob’s daughter was too dumb to get into Huntington!
Bob’s dumb daughter’s college woes are only part of the shoulder-shrugging problems that Bob has to endure during the film. Bob foolishly tries to bridge the generation gap (a phrase actually used in the movie!) by going out with his daughter and the gang to the beach.
He tries to keep up with a gang of rowdies that include Ed Begley, Jr. and Bruno Kirby by playing volleyball and football with them, running out into the surf, and finally water skiing, all with the expected disastrous results. (Was there even a second when we didn’t think that Bob would end up accidentally doing a water ski jump?)
The puffy Bob does his best to humiliate himself during all this, screaming like a little girl whenever he gets scared during these activities, but he spends most the movie being such a smug dick about Bart and the rest of his daughter’s friends that you’re hoping he strokes out and dies during some particularly strenuous event such as when he falls off a ladder, hits a trampoline and back flips right into a pool! (This all occurs when he’s trying to sneak into his daughter’s boarding house for some reason and leads to him being charged as a peeping tom! Please, no jokes about where Bob’s video camera was!)
Even someone as dimwitted as Bob’s little girl eventually figures out that he schemed to get her into Huntington and pouts by getting mixed up with an tree-hugging artist named Klutch who is down at Fisherman’s Wharf protesting all the boats that come into the San Francisco Bay.
But get this! The guy who owns most of the boats is a guy that Bob’s law firm is representing! And they’re in the middle of a heated labor dispute with the union! And Bob’s little girl shows up TV during a protest making Bob look bad to his client!
All that would be bad enough (especially since we’re treated to frequent scenes of Bob and his partner Dick Van Patten getting chewed out by this ship owner for not doing anything to settle with the union), but just to show how gaping the generation gap is, Bob’s little girl turns out to be engaged to Klutch!
But what about Bart? She’s mad at him for not telling her that he suspected her dad rigged it so she could go to Huntington! You know Bart, I understand that she has long blonde hair, but is she really worth all this hassle? I mean, she’s so mentally challenged that when Klutch thinks they’re engaged because he gave her a painting, she can’t figure any way out of it!
I wish I could report that Bob’s showdown with the evil Klutch and their resulting paint fight was the climax of the film, but this dang thing chugs along clear after that story line is wrapped up! There’s still a wedding between the daughter and Bart we have suffer through!
And by God if they didn’t go and get a children’s choir to rehash that horrid “These Are The Best Times” song! Wasn’t it enough that we got Bobby Goldsborogh’s version to start all this ugliness? And don’t even ask about the song the gang sings on their way back from the beach. It made me long for the musical stylings of the Brady Bunch.
In addition to its unlikable central character and his dunderheaded daughter, the movie is populated with recurring gags and scenes that go nowhere. The neighbor’s dog keeps attacking Bob. Bruno Kirby’s character keeps driving the gang around in different company vehicles because he is constantly losing his job. Bob and Bruno engage in a rather long and entirely witless repartee in a grocery store. The big “streetcar runs over Klutch’s painting” scene is as interesting as it sounds and really does nothing for the movie but extend it by about ten minutes.
Add in the fact that there was really nothing wrong with Bart (he’s going to be freshman in college and Bob is bemoaning the fact that Bart is going nowhere!) and you’re left with one of those grating crazy kids vs. uptight parents movies made by people who nothing about either group. The movie does manage to shed some light on one of life’s great mysteries though – Bob Crane’s career beat him to the grave by about five years or so!
© 2013 MonsterHunter