Sunday, June 15, 2008

Say Anything - Dads in Media Blog-a-thon

Sunday marks the 100th Father's Day celebrated in the U.S. In honor of fathers everywhere, RC, over at Strange Culture, is hosting a "Dads in Media" blog-a-thon! That's right folks, a blog-a-thon.

Two movie dads jumped out at me right away. The first was Armand Goldman (Robin Williams) from The Birdcage. The second was John Court (John Mahoney) from Say Anything. Each of these could easily be found in my Top Twenty Movies lists but which one is the most blog worthy dad?

The first pretends to be heterosexual just to impress his son's Republican in-laws-to-be. The second scams money from nursing home residents in order to provide for his studious daughter. I've decided to write about John Court. Armand has a large support system backing him up but John is all on his own. Also, Say Anything develops the parent/child relationship a lot more than The Birdcage.

I recently saw Say Anything at San Francisco's greatest movie house, The Castro Theatre. Every couple months, this rad dude named Jesse Hawthorne puts on MIDNITES FOR MANIACS. Jesse's "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" Midnight Triple Feature featured Lucas, My Bloody Valentine, and this 1989 Cameron Crowe love story. Hopefully, you've all seen this by now and share my opinions on it. If you haven't seen Say Anything then you make Barbara Bush cry. You can bet I don't have proof of that.

* The first thing everyone thinks about when they think of Say Anything is how gorgeous John Cusack is.
* The second thing they think about is how he just might be the male version of Diane least in gorgeousness.
* The third thing they think about is "I don't think either of those two things are true. Scott shouldn't speak for everyone like that."
* The fourth thing I think about is how Must Love Dogs should have been better.
* The fifth thing some people think about might be, "wow, what an awesome dad."

["What the hell is he talking about?"]

Single dad. Widower. Victim of an IRS Tax Audit. John is trying his best.

Dads get a bad rap. I come from a house where "The Simpsons" was off-limits. Other kids couldn't watch it because of the crudeness or the language but we couldn't watch because Homer was painted to be a bad dad. John Court is painted to be a good dad. He's funny, he's loving, and he'll do anything for his daughter, even if it lands him behind bars. John goes to jail because he loves his daughter too much...wait a second... that sounded wrong.

Let's start over. A single father. A widower. John tries to give Diane everything she wants. As it turns out, the only thing she wants is knowledge. Accepted to a top school in Europe, Diane has a couple months before she's off to begin the rest of her life. John's supportive and that's awesome. He's sad to see her leave, but he's more happy to see her succeed.

Enter Lloyd Dobler. A recent high school graduate, Lloyd plans on jumping into this crazy new sport called "kickboxing." He seems to be on the fast track to nowhere and he wants desperately to date John's daughter. John has him over for dinner where Lloyd makes a fool of himself, yet somehow, Diane still seems to be interested. She begins to spend more and more time with Lloyd and less and less time with her dad.

John handles things pretty well considering the circumstances. Diane's not going to be around for much longer. Lloyd doesn't appear to be a dream son-in-law. The amount of time he gets to spend with his daughter/best friend is getting shorter and shorter. He's getting pushed out of her life. If you asked me, I'd say he handled things pretty damn well.

Dads everywhere! Learn from John Court's example. Treat your children like adults and they will act like adults. Diane make her own decisions, and John supports her. Seems pretty simple doesn't it? Well, what about when the kid does something you don't like?

When Diane goes out to a party, she calls. When she's stuck on a life decision, she asks her dad about it. When she tells him that she just slept with Lloyd ...wait for it... he reacts calmly. Woah, maybe this is where that "movie magic" comes into play.

Quiz time!

Question #1: Your daughter comes home early one morning. She hasn't called. You've been up all night worrying. She tells you that she just slept with some wannabe Karate Kid in the backseat of her car. What do you do?

Do you: A. punch her square in the face? B. talk openly and calmly with your daughter, giving her any support she might need? C. ignore the problem, "America's Got Talent" is on.

If you answered "A," seek counseling. If you answered "B," you're either a liar or a better parent than I'll ever be. Shame on you or congratulations. If you answered "C," then did you see last week when that old lady tap danced like she was in a David Lynch movie? Scary, huh? Also, you kid just snuck out the window.

As great as John is, he's no angel. As most of you know, John is a CRIMINAL! He's supportive of his daughter but he supports her with STOLEN MONEY! Working at an old folks home provides plenty of opportunities for making that long paper. Elderly people = Easy payday. Okay, so John likes to help out old people in exchange for money that should rightfully go to their loved ones. But he IS their loved ones. When people don't come to visit their forgotten family members, they should have to forfeit all death profits. Forgetting Grandpa = Forget about that 20 Grand. Too bad the IRS doesn't see it that way.

In the second to last scene, we find John donning an orange jumpsuit. He got caught big time. Summer's over and Diane's off to Europe. How does she repay her dad for all the sacrifices he made to keep food on the table and $9,000 jukeboxes on the table? She sends her boyfriend and a letter. Enter Lloyd Dobler. In one of the most captivating scenes of the entire movie, John goes off on Lloyd, yelling "I don't deserve to lose my daughter!" Apparently, fraud was one of Diane's hot buttons. In a bittersweet ending, Diane and Lloyd take off into the air and far away from her dad.

John Court is a great dad. He does what he has to do to get by. Too bad hurting families (including his own), stealing money, and cheating the government was what he had to do. I wonder what he'll have to do to get by in prison. Yikes. Kids, don't let the bad outweigh the good. Diane quickly forgets how her dad listened, comforted, advised, provided, joked, loved her, and so much more. If there's a moral to be taken away from Say Anything it's that you are going to leave your dad to be beaten and raped in jail while you and your slacker boyfriend go live in Europe...say "goodbye" first. Happy Father's Day.

Here's something for the Google Searchers. Enjoy!


Lunatone said...

Not entirely sure I agree with your statement that Homer Simpson is painted to be a bad father.. I think he's painted to be an idiot that loves his family but screws up. Had you said that Peter Griffin is painted to be a bad father, I would be completely on board with that. Though, you were raised Mormon, and I'm not sure there's a single thing about Mormon beliefs that I agree with, but that's a conversation we've had many times before, in many incarnations.

A very intriguing post, however. Might make for an interesting conversation sometime. I think I agree with you. I'll have to think about it some more.

Anyway, I reiterate my desire that you reburn my CD because it's brokenness makes Kaleen cry.

Call me sometime.

Lunatone said...

In rereading my post, I want to clarify that I don't necessarily think that you agree that Homer is painted to be a bad father (though you might) that I realize it's your parents that said he was a bad father. You probably realize what I meant and am like, seriously Kaleen, stop clarifying, I'm not an idiot.

I don't think you're an idiot.


I'm leaving now. Honestly.

elgringo said...

All it took for my parents to ban Homer Simpson from the "Good Dad Pantheon" was the repeated choking of his 2nd Grade son. Yikes! That's what my parents felt anyway, haha.

Also...I'll be e-mailing you a link with tracks 18-25 of your mix in 3 minutes and 26 seconds. :)