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Review: Kristen Bell, Kelsey Grammer tread water in dramedy/cruise commercial ‘Like Father’

(L-R) - Kelsey Grammer and Kristen Bell in a scene from the movie “Like Father.” Credit: Emily Arago
Kelsey Grammer and Kristen Bell in the movie “Like Father.”
(Emily Aragones / Netflix)

As much a commercial for Royal Caribbean cruises as it is a dramedy about a bumpy daughter-dad reunion, “Like Father” swamps its workable emotional core and adept lead turns with some slapdash plotting and a raft of floating festivities.

Still, when the relationship at the well-intended heart of writer-director Lauren Miller Rogen’s film, based on a story by Rogen and producer Anders Bard, is kept simple and true, we see what may have attracted stars Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer to this otherwise unremarkable piece.

Bell plays Rachel, a workaholic New York ad exec who’s jilted at the altar (a crisis largely reserved for movies) and lands on her Jamaica-bound honeymoon cruise with her long-estranged father, Harry (Grammer). How that all happens is too contrived for words — so I will provide none.

But over this excursion, the resentful Rachel and regretful Harry slowly, predictably mend their damaged dynamic via glitzy shipboard activities, a few in-port adventures and lots of cocktails that lead the pair to realize how alike they are. (They’re not really, but whatever.)

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Credible bits of gap-filling history help bond father and daughter, however a story strand involving Harry’s late business partner feels awkward and misguided.

In addition, Rachel and Harry’s dining table mates — three chipper couples (one gay, one aging, one African American) — seem more expedient than real. But Seth Rogen (the filmmaker’s hubby) is fun as Rachel’s shipboard hookup.

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‘Like Father’

Not rated

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Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes.

Playing: Streaming on Netflix, starting Aug. 3

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