Larry (Larry Wang Parrish) is in Los Angeles visiting his two daughters, Betty (Betty Ouyang) and Angelita (Angelita Bushey), for Father’s Day. His friend Sam (James Karroum) drops him at their apartment, promising to return in a little while to pick him up. As Larry walks toward the door, homeless man Howard (Glen Willis) startles him but proves harmless enough. The sisters bicker the entire time they are preparing the meal for their dad, as Angelita is a vegan and Larry and Betty are not. Not the most promising start to his first Father’s Day without his wife.
As the night wears on, Betty and Angelita air their grievances towards one another, with secrets coming to light about past drug abuse. Betty is a writer, working with an agent, shopping a spec script for a TV pilot around town. Angelita aspires to be an actress and even has a callback for a commercial. Despite their modest successes, Larry continually reiterates his dissatisfaction with his children’s living situation, their career choices, and their lives generally speaking.
“…continually reiterates his dissatisfaction with his children’s living situation…”
Writer/ director Betty Ouyang’s latest short film, Father’s Day, doesn’t exactly sound like a comedy, now does it? But it proves rather delightful. The ridiculousness of what the siblings initially fight over, whether or not Angelita threw out the non-vegan food, despite it being pushed far back in the fridge, is quite humorous. Larry’s over-exaggerated head-shakings when he discovers their mouse traps and multiple cans of bug spray make fun of the “nothing is ever good enough” father trope quite well. Betty and Angelita treat Howard like a neighbor who just happens to sleep outside, much to their father’s chagrin. The amount and variety of side jobs, or “being fluid” as they say, the siblings do in order to pursue their dreams is the most absurd, funniest thing in the movie.
Ouyang’s directing is confident, allowing the jokes to build before they are paid off. The ending does hold a sweet surprise, which makes the story less combative than it seems on the surface. Ouyang and Bushey play off each other perfectly.
“…Bushey delivers a lot of heart and emotions in just fourteen minutes.”
However, while Parrish is excellent at the physical aspects of the role, he lacks chemistry with the two lead actresses. This causes a lot of the movie to feel inert, despite the snappy dialogue and brief runtime. The ending does reveal that some of that detachment is just an act he puts on, but that does not save the entire movie.
Father’s Day is well directed and has some wonderfully delicious dialogue, dripping with sarcasm and wit. Writer/ director/ star/ producer Betty Ouyang has excellent comedic timing as both a director and actor. Angelita Bushey delivers a lot of heart and emotions in just fourteen minutes. But thanks to the misguided casting of Parrish, as their dad, the movie never reaches its full potential.
Father’s Day (2018) Directed by Betty Ouyang. Written by Betty Ouyang. Starring Betty Ouyang, Angelita Bushey, Larry Wang Parrish, James Korrum, Glen Willis.
6 out of 10