The cluttered, banal children's comedy INVISIBLE DAD is hard to watch, for reasons unrelated to its title.
Teen electronics buff Doug Baily (William Meyers) is new in town, the latest of many moves for his widowed, workaholic dad Andrew (Daran Norris), an architect now creating a shopping mall. Their house previously belonged to an eccentric inventor, and neglected Doug finds his ultimate achievement,
a computerized gizmo that makes wishes come true. Doug wishes for harmless things, like finishing his homework or teleporting a bikinied girl from the TV into the living room. But when Andrew finds the machine he demands Doug destroy it, declaring that Bailys earn solely through honest labor. "I
wish my dad would just disappear," mutters Doug before smashing the device. Sure enough, the wish turns Andrew transparent, perhaps permanently. The Invisible Dad adapts as best he can, doing his renderings at home and wearing head-to-foot clothing (including a beekeeper's mesh hat) when he
ventures outside. Doug meanwhile tries to repair the machine, with the eventual aid of an African explorer (Robert Donovan), the twin brother of its original inventor. Invisibility comes in handy for Andrew when an office rival steals his blueprints and tries to give the mall contract to corrupt
builders in exchange for kickbacks. Andrew exposes the perfidy, just as his son manages to wish him visible again. The machine is taken to remote Africa for safekeeping, and Andrew Baily decides to share more quality time with Doug.
Prolific cheapie director Fred Olen Ray (who at one point was directing ten features per year) previously devised a formula kiddie film called INVISIBLE MOM for direct-to-cable and home-video markets. In INVISIBLE DAD Ray manages to conjure a follow-up that resists being a remake or sequel. One
hopes mainstream filmmakers, allegedly far more upmarket than Fred Olen Ray, would set similar goals, in an era in which Hollywood eats its own waste products with further blockbuster sequels and overhyped adaptations of comic books and TV shows. That mild appreciation aside, INVISIBLE DAD is
pretty bad. All actors apparently learned the dramatic arts from a whoopee cushion, and both script and character continuity leave a lot to be desired (blowhard Andrew tolerates being invisible better than he can handle Doug not finishing household chores). Goonish subplots come and go, like the
one about a neighborhood paranoiac (Charles Dierkop) who believes the Bailys are aliens, providing unwelcome comic relief from the comic relief. Juvenile lead William Meyers plays what amounts to the straight man in all these sandbox antics, but even he can't wring much out of the canned moral
about a driven single parent needing to spend time with his kid. That cliche has gotten so old one can only ponder what sort of nightmarish upbringings drive successive generations of screenwriters to revive it. Special effects are unimpressive, and in-joke fans should be similarly unenthused that
Doug "invents" a videogame called Amazing Mouse Maze, which itself was a plot detail from producer/actor Andrew Stevens's R-rated thriller THE CORPORATION (1997). (Substance abuse.)
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- Released: 1998
- Rating: NR
- Review: The cluttered, banal children's comedy INVISIBLE DAD is hard to watch, for reasons unrelated to its title. Teen electronics buff Doug Baily (William Meyers) is new in town, the latest of many moves for his widowed, workaholic dad Andrew (Daran Norris), an… (more)