Daddy Issues (2020) | VOD
When I was asked to cover Daddy Issues I made a pretty unfunny joke about asking a member of the Dead Dad Club to cover a film about a dead dad. Turns out, my joke was about as funny as the humour in the film, and any worries about grief triggers were unwarranted.
Directed by Laura Holliday in her feature debut, the thumbprints of her background in short film can be seen throughout, for better or for worse. Following three millennials, the film often feels like three short films intertwined only due to the main characters knowing each other. Whilst Holliday is clearly proficient, there wasn’t enough to keep me engaged, and I often found my attention drifting throughout the film. The humour, especially in the opening funeral scenes, just doesn’t hit right and the tone constantly shifts, leaving the viewer unsettled.
Sold as a film about a young woman returning home to take over the family business and deal with the loss of her father (and her daddy issues), I feel short-changed. Rather than being about Henrietta, her unresolved issues with her father, exploring her issues with stand-up, and why she left LA in the first place, the film just becomes a meandering tale of three people dating in LA.
The plot points of Henrietta, Alice, and Nolan don’t feel linked to each other and leaves the film feeling disjointed. It’s clear they all have “daddy issues,” as Alice is dating sugar daddies for cash and Nolan is dealing with potentially becoming a stepfather, but there is no real interrogation into these subjects, and instead we’re left watching attractive 20-somethings wander aimlessly around L.A. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but the writer needs to lean in to it. The concept of Henrietta struggling to be the daughter her dad wanted vs. the stand-up she always wanted to be feels like a wasted after thought that was thrown into the film at the last second. There are so many good plot points within the film, but they all seem undercooked.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Alice is the most interesting and developed character within the film; she’s a lesbian who is hustling Lyft driving and going on sugar daddy dates in secret. Actress Alice Carroll Johnson makes her incredibly watchable, and I found myself craving to spend more time in her storyline. Kimberley Datnow’s Henrietta is meant to be fun and aloof but at times can come off as rude and dismissive. The humour of her dialogue doesn’t always land and using the same two clips of her stand-up multiple times makes her potential career as a comedian seem pretty unlikely.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
"...The whole film felt like a missed opportunity..."
LA looks beautiful in the film and the locations used are perfect. There’s a clear indie vibe to the film, but it feels like a real LA that 20-somethings would hang out in. Costume design was a little questionable, and I’m sure there was a scene with questionable continuity regarding lighting and costume, but it almost gets away with it. fun and aloof but at times can come off as rude and dismissive. The humour of her dialogue doesn’t always land and using the same two clips of her stand-up multiple times makes her potential career as a comedian seem pretty unlikely.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Some hits, some misses, but on the whole a serviceable soundtrack that helps bounce the plot along.
There’s nothing truly wrong with Daddy Issues, it just seems to have been poorly named and wrongly summarized in its synopsis. If you’re after a low-key hang with some lost millennials as they do some weird dating, it’s for you. But don’t expect a film about daddy issues, grief, or really even finding yourself, as the film leaves these pretty unanswered. I definitely feel I went into the film with too many expectations, and perhaps had I seen it with no idea of the name or plot content I would have felt more charmed, but for me the whole film felt like a missed opportunity.