On my grandmother's deathbed, she made a point of whispering to me that a recent article and photo of me in local newspaper made me "look like poor white trash."
Those are the last words I remember from my grandmother.
So, I definitely got into the vibe of Larry Clarke's 3 Days with Dad, a Unified Pictures release arriving this weekend in limited theatrical release and on Digital/HD VOD. The film stars Clarke as Eddie Mills, whom we catch on fairly quickly is a bit of a family outcast having now been thrust into the role of delivering the eulogy for his father (played in flashbacks by Brian Dennehy).
Larry Clarke is one of those "That guy!" actors, a longtime familiar face in motion pictures who dependably delivers memorable scenes and whose career has amassed over 80 credits over the years. This film, his directorial debut, is a semi-autobiographical tale that weaves together elements of dysfunctional family dramedy and rom-com into a cinematic experience that is more than a little uneven tonally but may be all the better off for it.
For those familiar with Jim Cummings' acclaimed 2018 motion picture Thunder Road, 3 Days with Dad may look a wee bit familiar in terms of structure and initial storyline. However, 3 Days with Dad takes more than a few detours and gives us a character, Eddie, who is older and a little more settled into his resentments and dysfunctions.
Much of 3 Days with Dad is lived out in flashback, the film's opening funeral scenes largely giving way to the years of crazy family and crazier situations that brought Eddie into this place. Most of 3 Days with Dad is played for laughs, though occasionally Clarke's poignancy and biting observations cut through that laughter with an impact that feels true and genuine. It helps that Clarke has assembled a top-notch ensemble cast here that works well together as an ensemble.
Longtime Hollywood vet Brian Dennehy is a welcome presence here as Bob, the eternal disciplinarian whose final moments of existence are spent reminding his loved ones why their familial dysfunctions are likely to continue for years to come. Dennehy is unapologetically gruff here, his seemingly lifelong idea of love essentially reminding everyone around him to live up to standards he himself has never attained. Tom Arnold, as Eddie's brother, is practically made for this kind of material and he makes the most of it here. Eric Edelstein has moments to shine as Zak, while the always wonderful Lesley Ann Warren shines as stepmother Dawn and Mo Gaffney, a national treasure I tell ya', is spot-on as Eddie's sister Diane.
3 Days with Dad doesn't always quite balance its dueling storylines with Eddie's unresolved issues around lost love Susan (Julie Ann Emery) getting the short end of the stick here. Interestingly enough, however, it's Emery who's an absolute gem here despite material that is tonally uneven and never quite gels with the more darkly humorous hospital and death scenes.
Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons makes a brief appearance here as Joey, a trainee funeral director with a helluva lot more to learn. It's a fun appearance, but mostly irrelevant to the story.
There's something admirable to be said about 3 Days with Dad, a flawed yet entertaining film that tries to accomplish a bit too much but occasionally nails moments with such insightfulness that you can't help but appreciate the film. At times incredibly dark yet honest in its comedy, 3 Days with Dad is the kind of film you're a little tempted to dismiss as the closing credits are rolling only to realize you're still thinking about it a couple days later.
3 Days with Dad opens this weekend for weeklong runs in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall and in New York at Cinema Village. It will also open in Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, Dallas, Tampa, Orlando, Minneapolis and Detroit and debut nationwide on VOD and Digital HD.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic