Zoey Deutch in Flower. (Photo: Carolina Costa)

If you’re a fan of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, you probably think of Tim Heidecker as an eternal infant, reveling in funny faces and fart noises. But that’s starting to change now that the New Yorker has called him a “bard of suburban fatherhood.” (Not that he’s gone entirely straight– that same article mentioned his band’s “themed album all about imbibing urine.”) So it’s not a complete shock to see the king of infantile absurdism playing a painfully dorky dad in Flower, a film by Max Winkler that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last week.

Heidecker plays Bob, the father of an obese, emotionally disturbed teen (Joey Morgan) who returns from rehab to live in the San Fernando Valley with his dad’s girlfriend (Kathryn Hahn) and her 17-year-old daughter Erica. When Erica, a spunky Miley Cyrus type played brilliantly by 22-year-old Zoey Deutch, tries to put her emotionally volatile new step-brother at ease by offering him a parking-lot beej, it’s clear this isn’t going to be The Brady Bunch.

After a screening yesterday, Winkler (son of Henry, aka the Fonz) told viewers that when he found the script on The Blacklist, a repository of unsigned projects, it was more of a comedy. “Everyone sort of cast it aside as just a blow job movie or something like that.” The way Winkler saw it, Erica’s oral promiscuity was “not a sexual thing at all– it’s all about control and hanging on to some semblance of control.” After all, she entraps older men into hooking up with her only so she and her friends can blackmail them.

Winkler said that the revised script featured “less jokes, and less stuff that was funny.” He also saw to it that Adam Scott’s character, an alleged sex criminal, was “as human as possible, because I’ve seen that character a lot and that character is always like a monster.”

Even if the end result is something closer to dramedy than comedy (Winkler pointed to Lynne Ramsay’s Ratcatcher, Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank, and John Hughes as influences), Heidecker’s character draws some laughs via his cheeseball taste in music and clothes (sandals and socks, all the way). What’s more, his nickname, Sherm, recalls Shrim from Tim & Eric, and one particular gross-out kissing scene is also reminiscent of the show, if only for its overblown foley. (And yes, it’s weird seeing Tim kiss someone other than his upcoming tour companion Eric Wareheim.)

Truthfully, I’m only focusing on Heidecker because I’m a fan, and it’s fun to see him in his first major serious role since Rick Alverson’s The Comedy, in which he played a disaffected Williamsburg hipster. But even if, judging by the listeners who call into his Office Hours podcast, Heidecker’s audience is primarily male (the same can safely be said of executive producers Danny McBride, Jody Hill, and David Gordon Green), this particular film focuses more on Erica and her clique of girlfriends, including one played by Charlie XCX lookalike Dylan Gelula (best known as the bratty daughter in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).

“A lot of times, these sort of plot-driven teen movies end up going to male leads,” Winkler noted. “They’re written for guys. And I was very excited that this could be a female-driven version.”

Winkler said he was originally worried that, as a 32-year-old male, he wouldn’t be able to portray young women authentically, so he read Andrea Dworkin, Kate Millet, Go Ask Alice, and Reviving Ophelia. He also hired female department heads, partly to serve as a reality check. In the end, he seems to have pulled it off. He said that his editor, Sarah Beth Shapiro, showed the film to her mentor, who was surprised to be told, after watching, that the director was a man. “That was far and away the best compliment I could get,” Winkler said.