Griego is a Buenos Aires TV producer running his legs off the keep his long-running confrontational reality show, “Hoy se arregla el mundo” on the air.
He’s forever putting out fires, jetting abroad to sell his shows to other South American countries and fending off his station’s boss, the impertinent son of the late owner of the place.
So he’s barely got time for this kid whose custody he shares with the boy’s mother, Silvana. When she asks him to watch Benito for a few days, he can’t recall which school to pick him up from, or even what grade he is.
Griego (Leonardo Sbaraglia) is entirely too self-absorbed and distracted to be a good dad. Silvana (Natalia Oreiro) plans to move with the boy to Madrid for work, and Griego can’t be bothered to look up from checking his phone messages to respond.
“What’s in your chest, Griego?” It’s a fair question, because “a heart” isn’t the obvious answer. Doesn’t he care?
“He’s my son!” “Are you SURE?”
That’s a helluva note to end a dinner conversation with, seeing as how they never married and the guy never really bonded with the kid. But in melodramatic terms, that’s the perfect spot for her to storm out of the restaurant and get run over by a car.
Griego, the producer of a show that stages fights between neighbors over wi-fi and father-and-daughter over her vegetarianism, has a kid he’s neglected on his hands, one he’s indifferent to and so unsure about he takes a DNA test. It’s negative.
“Today We Fix the World,” taking its name from the daffy “faked” show Griego produces, is about not-really-your-father heartlessly breaking that news to a fourth grader, and then teaming up with that kid to try and figure out who his real dad is.
Sentimental and cute, a tad slow and not nearly as amusing as its premise sets us up for, it still plays, a downbeat little comedy with some slapstick, a smattering of showbiz and a lot of heart.
Take the way Griego breaks the news to to Beni (Benjamín Otero). He’s so clueless he says “Would you like to go get a cup of coffee (in Spanish, or dubbed into English)?” Griego warns the kid this is “going to hurt,” like “getting vaccinated.”
“I’m not your father,” he says. “It didn’t hurt,” the kid snaps back.
The child just lost his mother, and his not-my-dad is unloading “You have no idea how many problems I’m dealing with right now” on him.
“Fix the World” follows their quest, picking up clues from Silvana’s cell phones, interrogating her guidance-counselor pal (Charo López) without revealing their secret to her, avoiding the subject with Beni’s well-heeled, high-finance player grandma.
They start visiting suspects “from nine years ago” — the choreographer, the painter, the sleazy psychotherapist, a clown at the famous Republic of Children Argentine amusement park.
That last one is the film’s funniest bit, a peek into the horrific excesses of a gang of clowns, who protect their own from outsiders, be they tourists or guys trying to figure out if one of them fathered a child.
The TV show’s tribulations are a big distraction for Griego and an almost amusing one for the film. He keeps a lawyer, a doctor (who feeds him pills) and even a hypnotist on staff for the various stunts they stage daily on a series that is dying the ratings even as Griego is traveling the country, looking for a man who looks like “his” kid.
Even though we know where this is going to end up, Mariano Vera’s script gives that finale a final poignant twist or two, and director Ariel Winograd (“The Heist of the Century,” “Ten Days Without Mom”) keeps the tone light and sentimental.
Sbaraglia (“Pain and Glory”) walks a deft line between contemptible and worth saving from himself. We buy his character’s emotional journey, from an unwanted burden to a child he wants the best for.
It doesn’t all come together as neatly as it might have, and there are potential laughs and screwball moments left dangling. But Winograd sticks with what he knows, sentiment, and makes this “Fix” stick.
Rating: TV-14, drug abuse jokes, adult situations
Cast: Leonardo Sbaraglia, Benjamín Otero, Charo López, Martín Piroyansky and Natalia Oreiro
Credits: Directed by Ariel Winograd, scripted by Mariano Vera. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:53