FATHER HOOD is a big-screen TV sitcom crossed with an action show, something like "Bachelor Father Cruises Route 66." Manipulative and mawkish as some of it is, it's family entertainment that parents can comfortably tolerate with their older kids. With his Elvis pompadour and Me-First attitude, Jack Charles (Patrick Swayze) is a small-time operator on...read more
FATHER HOOD is a big-screen TV sitcom crossed with an action show, something like "Bachelor Father Cruises Route 66." Manipulative and mawkish as some of it is, it's family entertainment that parents can comfortably tolerate with their older kids.
With his Elvis pompadour and Me-First attitude, Jack Charles (Patrick Swayze) is a small-time operator on the verge of landing that one big score that has eluded him throughout his second-rate crime career. He doesn't need extra baggage in the form of teenage daughter Kelly (Sabrina Lloyd) and
young son Eddie (Brian Bonsall), both of whom he has abandoned to foster care. But his best attempts to elude parental responsibility fail. While he attempts to return Kelly, who has fled a juvenile detention center, she goads him into rescuing Eddie from a Dickensian child care system. And when a
smarmy foster care official Mr. Lazzaro (Bob Gunton) gets Jack's dander up, he risks kidnapping charges and goes on the lam with his offspring.
After failing to dump them on his mother Rita (Diane Ladd), Jack can no longer consider deserting Kelly and Eddie. But he refuses to abandon his plans to meet Jerry (Michael Ironside), his partner in crime, in New Orleans. Jack develops a relationship with a reporter, Kathleen Mercer (Halle
Berry), who criticized him in print, and she enlists his reluctant aid in exposing the child welfare system. After crossing the country in stolen vehicles and barely eluding capture, Jack keeps his rendezvous with Jerry. But Jack's plans to intercept a shipment of mob money are derailed when he
discovers the kids hiding in the trunk of his getaway car. Jack narrowly escapes a gangland rubout and decides to face his criminal charges, but only after he and Mercer force the overhaul of the foster care system with the assistance of Kelly's testimony about sexual abuse, and he receives
assurances that he and his family can be reunited after his release from prison.
Stronger on action than characterization, FATHER HOOD is equal parts domestic comedy and action-adventure. Cannibalizing THE FUGITIVE, LITTLE MISS MARKER, ROBIN HOOD, and ANNIE, as well as dozens of other familiar entertainments, FATHER HOOD fails most noticeably when it interjects depressingly
serious issues into an innocuous chase film. The molestation accusations and the kids-in-peril plot machinations (most offensive during the New Orleans mob shoot-out) are too heavy for this lightweight concoction to support. At its least inspired, FATHER HOOD resembles one of those American
remakes of French farces that worked better in the original. At its best, it offers the kind of state-of-the-art car chases and property damage dear to the hearts of action movie lovers of all ages. Disassembling the family unit and putting it back together in the reassuring manner of TV comedy,
this family frolic can best be appreciated as domestic action odyssey in which traditional values triumph, and if FATHER HOOD had settled for more cartoonish villainy and had concentrated on fully developing the dynamics of the newly reacquainted family, it might have emerged as "The Swiss Family
Robinson on Wheels." While not a classic, FATHER HOOD does offer a fairly exciting crime spree neutered into fun for the entire family. (Violence, profanity, some adult situations.)