Hollywood has a long tradition of family reunion films (see: Home for the Holidays, Pieces of April, The Family Stone, um, Christmas with the Kranks). Whatever the excuse – be it terminal sickness or a jolly holiday – it’s a gimmick, a set-up for tempers flaring, exorcising demons and intermittent hilarity. Larry Clarke’s 3 Days with Dad is a lackluster addition to the pantheon of family reunion flicks. It checks all the requisite boxes—and has a committed cast to liven up the dull proceedings—but ultimately fails to add fresh ingredients to a stale stew.
When the patriarch of the Mills family, cantankerous Vietnam war vet Bob (Brian Dennehy), passes away, the entire “clan” gets together for the funeral. Clarke then proceeds to shift the narrative between the cremation ceremony and Bob’s last days in the hospital, narrowing down on each character’s prevalent issue. At the center of it all is the down-on-his-luck doorman Eddie (Clarke), who struggles to deal with not living up to his father’s expectations. Meeting his old flame Susan (Julie Ann Emery) may just put things in perspective for him.
“When the patriarch of the Mills family… passes away, the entire ‘clan’ gets together for the funeral.”
Then there’s Bob’s caring (and maybe cheating) wife Dawn (Lesley Ann Warren); Eddie’s on-edge, devout Catholic brother Andy (Tom motherfuckin’ Arnold); his sardonic brother Zak (Eric Edelstein); and their somewhat-ambivalent sister, Diane (Mo Gaffney). An assortment of characters populates the already-overstuffed ensemble: ex-stripper Velma (Amy Landecker), who asks Eddie to sing during awkward sex; funeral worker Joey (J.K. Simmons, receiving top billing for five minutes of screen time); and doctors Grey and Rabinowitz (David Koechner and Sam Trammell).