an old man and middle-aged man sit at a table together, shot in black and white
Courtesy Netflix

Sr. is capable of softening even the hardest of hearts. Not everyone is a film buff, but most moviegoers know who Robert Downey Jr. is, whether as the affable and attractive Tony Stark or the lively and legendary Charlie Chaplin. His first roles, however, were in a handful of independent films directed by Robert Downey Sr., an absurdist, anti-establishment artist who set the standard for countercultural comedy in the 60s and 70s. He is also, of course, Jr.’s father. This is where it becomes easy to deploy cynicism. But to dismiss Sr. as a particular type of nepotism baby’s cash grab would be to forsake the film’s namesake, a man so steadfast in his artistic vision that he decides to “embark on his own concurrent and final film project” within Sr. And while those aforementioned film buffs could wax poetic about his legacy, it’s much more enjoyable to see Sr.’s career through the same lens that shot celebrated works like Greaser’s Palace (1972). Compiled with documentarian Chris Smith’s footage of Sr.’s final years battling Parkinson’s disease, the film also showcases how his love of creating is reflected in his familial relationships, making for a perfectly surreal, silly, and sentimental send-off. R, 89 min.

Netflix