Father Hood

(Darrell James Roodt, USA, 1993)


What on earth went wrong with Father Hood? The credits promise an interesting, off-beat, comedy-drama: co-produced by Nicholas Pileggi (author of Scorsese’s Goodfellas, 1990), scripted by Scott Spencer (Endless Love, 1981), directed by Darrell James Roodt (who made the intriguing anti-apartheid musical Sarafina!, 1992), and starring Patrick Swayze as a boyish criminal, in the mode of Richard Gere’s classic role in Breathless (1983).

The video trailer for this film works hard to make it seem like a knockabout, rock’n’roll farce, as Jack (Swyaze) busts his kids out of foster care and races across America evading the cops. The filmmakers, while fumbling to keep a foot in light comedy, entertain rather graver ideas. The story quickly turns into a heavy-handed exploration of dysfunctional families, and the institutional abuse of homeless children.

Chris Menges’ underrated CrissCross (1992) handled a similar mix of genres – family melodrama, action movie, whimsical comedy – with far greater aplomb, although both films are afflicted with the familiar Wonder Years syndrome, pasting a wetly reflective, first person narration over proceedings.

Although Sabrina Lloyd makes a good impression as Jack’s doeful teenage daughter, Swyaze himself is hopelessly miscast, and Diane Ladd turns in a truly bizarre cameo as Jack’s gambler-with-a-heart-of-gold mum.

© Adrian Martin May 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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