Friday, August 3, 2012
Technically an 80's movie as it was released in 1989, I always think of this as being much more of a 90's film. More than just it's proximity to the later decade, it just has that kind of vibe. I remember seeing it as a kid and thinking it was very funny. I'm fairly certain the draw for me at the time was seeing another film with Keanu Reeves who caught my childhood attention as Ted Logan in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" which was released the same year.
If you've never seen it, the story centers around the Buckman family. It's a big family with plenty of parents, grandparents and children. When I was younger, I identified with the rebellious and confused Julie and Garry, two kids rocked into relative ab-normalcy by the divorce of their parents. I didn't go through this specific scenario myself but it didn't keep me from an often odd and awkward adolescent experience. Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing about my upbringing. What I went through made me the person I am today and gave me a great perspective about having children of my own.
Which brings me to what made me think about choosing this film as the topic for this post. When I was very young I never really thought about how good I had it. Not that being a teenager was always a walk in the park but I always thought adults had it figured out and that when I got older I would really have my own affairs together. This film was the first thing that ever really made me think that adults might have a much more stressful, confusing and trying time than children did. As a parent, I now see just how true those feelings were.
Both my children are young but I always try and stay a step ahead. In the present, this means things like planning birthday parties, choosing day care or day schools, buying clothes, picking activities, etc. In the long term I worry a lot about pricey school registrations and supplies, braces, sports and equipment, cars, college, weddings, etc.
Thankfully my wife is much less of a worrier than I am, a large part of the beauty of our relationship: balance. She always tells me to relax, that we will be able to figure it out, make it all happen and that the most important things we can give our kids are free. At the end of the day, the shelter of the family unit and the nurturing, guidance, life lessons and love we provide should be enough to help them have a good head on their shoulders and land on their feet. I hope she is right.
Again, my vision of what adulthood would be like was way off. The confidence and stability I thought I would have are missing and more than an adult, I just feel like an old kid. Despite the feeling that I don't really know what I am doing, things are always taken care of and we don't want for much and don't need for anything. My ability to pull this off, thanks to the rearing provided by my parents, gives me a much better feeling about how my children might feel when they get older. At the end of the day, I think that might be just as much as any parent can ask for.
The film sums all of this up in one brilliant exchange between Steve Martin and Helen Shaw, the aging and mentally slipping matriarch of the family. Her years of knowledge and experience shine clearly in this scene and even as a child, the truth of the dialogue was apparent to me. I understand it now more than ever and as scary and frightening as it gets at times, I am thoroughly enjoying the ride.
(taken from IMDB)
[Gil has been complaining about his complicated life; Grandma wanders into the room]
Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!
Gil: What a great story.
Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.