There’s a reason certain genres are popular with audiences, and indeed with filmmakers alike. There’s a lot of comforts to be found in the familiar; in knowing what to expect and being led along a predictable route to an uplifting destination. Cris D’Amato’s Double Dad understands the innate allure of a fun-for-all-the-family comedy in which a young 18-year-old girl escapes the hippie commune where she has spent her life in search of the father she has never met. Its secret weapon is that the girl, Vicenza, is played by Maisa Silva, a former child star growing into a remarkably personable actor.
Both D’Amato and screenwriters Renato Fagundes and Thalita Rebouças seem to understand the innate appeal of their star. When her mother leaves the commune for India, she sees an opportunity to flee herself, heading to Rio de Janeiro and meeting not one but two prospective parents, including struggling bohemian painter Paco (Eduardo Moscovis) and success story Giovani (Marcelo Médici). But with two dads, one, or none at all, Vicenza retains the limelight and the audience’s attention, earning a few chuckles with decent fish-out-of-water comedy – being a hippie certainly has its drawbacks – and generating some emotional interest in a few more serious turns.
Double Dad, then, is really a film constructed to prop up a charismatic performance, but that isn’t to say it has nothing to say about its themes of parenting in general and fatherhood specifically. That it’s relatable in that sense is also a boon, and makes the film well-suited to lazy afternoon full-family viewing. It might not win any awards or trend in any meaningful way, but it’ll really satisfy the right audience.
Nothing for it but to take a ten hour bus ride to Rio and check him out.
Paco’s a painter in Double Dad, something Vicenza aspires to be. She doesn’t give herself away. “Classes,” she says. She’ll sign up for that. She sketches him (Eduardo Moscovis) in a few quick strokes and he agrees to take her own. But after giving him a couple of hints in that first meeting, she just blurts it out.
“I might be your daughter, Paco,” in Portuguese with English subtitles.
Jumping right into that removes suspense and any tension that might build up over him not knowing and her wanting to tell him. But as this four-screenwriter-script isn’t into the stuff of drama — “conflict” — that’s what we get.
Vicenza ingratiates herself into the creatively-blocked Paco’s life. And she meets a boy from a Carnival group, Naked Amoeba. Cabu (Pedro Ottoni) is bubbly and supportive and seriously into the hippy girl, who fits right in with a Carnival parade corps.
Rummaging through their photo archive (as with Mardis Gras, crews can go back decades, generations), she comes up with another of Mom’s Carnival paramours back in the day. Uh oh. Might wealthy banker Giovanni (Marcelo Médici) be her “real” father?
And might dueling Dads be the conflict this diet cola desperately needs?
Double Dad is now streaming on Netflix.
Read our other reviews here.