“Fathers and Daughters” might as well have been titled “Daddy Issues: The Movie,” lazily relying on that old chestnut that women who have complicated relationships with their fathers become self-destructive sex addicts — until of course, they find a man who reminds them of dad. That’s the overarching theme that rises out of this literary melodrama, which hops between the childhood and adulthood of Katie (played by Kylie Rogers and Amanda Seyfried), the daughter of brilliant but troubled writer Jake Davis (Russell Crowe).
Directed by Gabriele Muccino, “Fathers and Daughters” is imbued with all the syrupy earnest dramatics of Muccino’s films “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “Seven Pounds.” It tries to do too much, over-stuffed with soap operatic events — a drunken car crash that kills Katie’s mom, her father’s institutionalization and subsequent psychological troubles, a custody battle between Jake and his sister-in-law (Diane Kruger). The timelines don’t make temporal sense — aside from the seemingly anachronous cultural references, there’s no way 25 years passed between the two periods, as is claimed on screen.
Muccino has assembled an all-star supporting cast, including Bruce Greenwood, Aaron Paul and Jane Fonda, but no amount of star power can save the script by Brad Desche. By the time Katie has a breakdown in front of a jukebox playing “Close to You,” inspiring her to skip a drunken orgy, the outlandish melodrama is a raging, out-of-control wildfire.
‘Fathers and Daughters’
MPAA rating: R, for some sexual content/references
Running time: 1 hour, 56 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica