with Avi Spivack
Hi, I'm Avi, and I try to put the work and the dad together, with mild success. This is all about trying to give you a view from what it looks like on the dad-man's side of the world, and I hope you find my ruminations humorous because I try not to take myself too seriously.
I’ll start by saying that “Juno” is easily one of the best films I have seen in awhile - truly an original, so if you haven’t seen it, go NOW. As for “Knocked Up,” it was somewhat disappointing, but being the eternal optimist that I am, I have found the silver lining within.
So how do these flicks see their Dad characters?
In “Knocked Up,” the first scene that grabbed my attention was when the Paul Rudd middle-aged Dad character (Pete) is watching his daughters play with bubbles on the playground, and here’s what transpires between him and the stoner lead character, Ben:
Pete: I wish I liked anything as much as my kids like bubbles.
Ben Stone: That’s sad.
Pete: Totally sad. Their smiling faces just point out your inability to enjoy anything.
A totally unexpected exchange. This is a man who has reached the pinnacle of happiness as he watches his kids be happy, but in this scene and throughout the film, he struggles to reclaim his youth and “be a guy.” So when the younger Ben character enters his life, he is stoked, and they even drive to Vegas together to cap the celebration of not being tied down by a wife and kids - freedom! And yet, in the end, he returns, knowing that he is ultimately happier with his family, shackles and all.
And in “Juno,” without giving anything away, you have a wonderful contrast between the middle-class brash humor of Juno’s father (the spot-on JK Simmons) and the wealthy suburbanite adoptive parents, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman. Watch the scene closely where they all meet and sit across from each other, on the plush, white couch, and then watch how Bateman’s dad-to-be character evolves, especially compared to Juno’s previously divorced dad. And then, when you’ve seen it all, tell me how you feel about Jennifer Garner’s adoptive mom vs. Bateman’s “sell-out” dad.
And to prove to you that I can and do read (not just watch movies), here’s a nice little bit in the NY Times - go and read it. It immediately made me think of “Knocked Up” and the disillusioned father who resorts to Vegas and sneaks away to secret fantasy football leagues because he needs to get away. Midlife crisis or just a jackass who’s still trying to figure it all out, just like the rest of us?
In my experience, men need to feel like they’re still men, to some degree. For example, I do need to watch some football, grunt, be stupid, and go to the occasional Celtics game and drink a beer. And I think these manly needs are not too onerous. But at some point I might hit my middle-age, whatever that might be, and long for my youth in more extreme ways. I wonder what will happen then. What do you think?
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