Netflix’s ‘Old Dads’ is a comedy film directed by actor-comedian Bill Burr in his directorial debut. It stars Burr, Bobby Cannavale, and Bokeem Woodbine as Jack, Connor, and Mike, three middle-aged individuals trying to understand the mechanics of an ever-changing world while living on their own terms. However, when Jack’s confrontational and short-tempered personality affects his family life and questions his parenting skills, he is forced to mend his ways. The light-hearted film offers many hilarious moments, particularly through Jack’s journey as a middle-aged father. Given the resemblance between his off-screen persona and the movie’s character, viewers must wonder if the movie is based on Bill Burr’s life. If you are looking for some insights about the inspiration behind ‘Old Dads,’ here is everything you need to know!
The Inspiration Behind Old Dads
‘Old Days’ is partially based on Bill Burr’s life. The film marks Burr’s feature film directional debut, and he also penned the screenplay for it alongside Ben Tishler. Although the movie tells a primarily fictional story, the premise was loosely inspired by Burr’s real-life experiences. The movie mainly deals with the theme of fatherhood and explores how parenting has changed in the last few decades. In an interview given before the SAG-AFTRA strikes, Burr revealed that the movie’s subject material is extremely close to his heart. Burr explained that he derived the premise from his own life, particularly from becoming a dad at a later age.
Burr is married to actress and producer Nia Renee Hill. The couple welcomed their first child together, a daughter in 2017. The couple’s second baby, a son, was born in June 2020. At the time of his daughter’s birth, Burr was forty-eight years old. When his son was born, Burr was 51 years of age. In the interview, Burr explained how being a parent drastically changed his outlook on life and parenting in general. Burr soon realized that his ideas of parenting were outdated and replaced with more modern ideologies that he did not necessarily understand or identify with. As a result, he crafted the story of ‘Old Dads’ to explore how parenting and fatherhood have changed over the last few decades.
Burr also mentioned that he was dealing with several internal issues when he became a father, represented in the movie through his anger issues. In reality, Burr has admittedly had anger issues and even attended therapy to work on them. The film features Burr as Jack, a middle-aged father who is prone to angry outbursts. Therefore, it is safe to say that Burr’s real-life persona reflects in the fictional character he plays on screen. Although the film draws inspiration from Burr’s experiences as a father and anger issues (albeit to a lesser extent), the film tells a fictional story since Jack and his life differs from Burr’s real-life trajectory.
The Many Shades of Bill Burr in Old Dads
In the movie, Burr’s character has a son; in real life, his first child is a daughter. Similarly, Burr’s character in the movie works as one of the founders of a sports memorabilia company, a career path the famous comedian almost certainly did not embark upon. However, these small and subtle aspects help differentiate between Burr’s fictional character, his comedian persona, and his real-life personality. Consequently, it allows viewers to relate to Jack’s struggles and empathize with him as he struggles to adjust to an ever-changing world like most people not belonging to Gen Z.
Despite the film telling an overarching narrative, it is also a vehicle for Burr’s comedic rants, which made him popular in the first place. Moreover, given Burr’s observational and anecdotal style of comedy, it is safe to say that his real experiences directly inspire some of the comedic moments and gags in the movie. However, Burr’s character goes through a complete arc in the movie as he recognizes his issues and actively works on them instead of lashing out at others, resulting in the final product feeling like an endearing exploration of fatherhood and self-identity in an ever-changing, forever offended, and self-awareness oriented world.
Ultimately, ‘Old Dads’ is a fictional story primarily about middle-aged people navigating the harsh terrains of fatherhood and relationships made overly complicated by the internet-savvy, smart, and self-admittedly progressive new generation they co-exist with. It is a lighthearted comedy partially inspired by Bill Burr’s real-life experiences. However, with his usual relatable rants smeared in with a heartfelt narrative that demands a certain level of emotional investment, ‘Old Dads’ feels like a story of the everyman, simply trying to figure things out, like the rest of us.
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