If it wasn’t already glaringly obvious from the title, the movie was about parenting and all the struggles that come with it. Each parent in the movie had different styles of parenting, namely neglect (Gil’s younger bro and his father), authoritarian (Nathan, it was very interesting seeing this in a Western context for some reason), permissive (Helen) and authoritative (Gil?). I quite liked how the movie managed to stay so light and jokish while sending all these messages. One of the main ones I felt was when Keanu Reeves (I KNOW RIGHT? WHAT?!) said…
It’s true though isn’t it, something so important and yet. Parenthood.. There’s no manual.. It’s almost like throwing someone in the deep end of the pool and asking them to learn to swim.
Just watching how he says it gives you an idea of life at his home, look at that sadness… I like this Tod Higgin’s character. Although he seemed like a bum at first, he turned out to be one of the most interesting characters in the film. He was suddenly thrown into the role as the man of the family, and while he still made some bad decisions, he played the role well (the way he treats Garry, talks to Helen). Despite Helen’s obvious negative reactions to him in the beginning, he’s still civil and accepting to her, the way he speaks to her when they’re alone. And then there’s Garry, struggling in a family of women, because of a lack of strong paternal figure in his life. He basically retreats into himself, maybe because of shame and confusion about his roles, puberty etc. It’s quite sad to watch actually, but thankfully it gets better as more stable characters enter his life like Mr Reeves here and the bio teacher.
Helen is another interesting character. Despite her permissive parenting style, letting her kids slam the door in her face and etc., She actually tries to understand her kids instead of simply cutting them off because of their bad decisions. It doesn’t really work all the time, and there are times where she seems to get frustrated and becomes quite ambivalent (especially when she kicked her daughter out and immediately switched back to caring parent). This is understandable as parenting does bring with it many stressors, especially in a family like hers where everything seems to happen so suddenly (Julie and Tod marrying, the pregnancies etc), maybe because of poor communication within the family unit.
It’s not really obviously portrayed but I felt like the movie was trying to tell us that even with all the different parenting styles, even if it wasn’t good, if it hurt you or anything, you can still get out of it and become a better person, which is just kinda nice as opposed to the other stuff we read about this. Tod and Gil turned out pretty well despite their neglectful (I assume) parents.
“my whole life is ‘have to'” – Gill Buckman
One of my favourite dialogues in the movie. I feel it really captures the struggles of parenthood… and midlife crises very well. Made me think about my mom and all she’s gone through raising me, I’m not the easiest child, I eat peanut butter.. FROM THE JAR. oh yes (we got a bad ass over here). All jokes aside though, it made me wonder if she had ever gone through this feeling before. One thing I always hear about parenthood is the worry that seems to just come with it. We see this in Susan quite a lot, how she looks at her child with concern. Can you imagine waking up everyday preset with this worry? not just when they’re sick, unhappy etc. As a parent (or even us now actually) its almost in their job description, to worry about us even when we’re not doing anything particularly harmful, like watching tv. I see the looks mom gives me sometimes when she thinks I’m not paying attention and even then, I see the concern. I mean it’s not to say I don’t worry about her or anything..it just seems different that’s all.
Another thing, it’s easy to forget that parents are also their own people. I don’t know about you, and i’m a little embarrassed to admit it but I do look at my mom, as well, my mom. Which sounds terrible because that’s almost as though her sole existence is dedicated to being my mom. That’s horrible, I’m sorry mommy. I didn’t mean it that way.
Often, (again, maybe it’s just me) we look at adults, our elders in general, thinking like “boy, they’ve got everything figured out”. I read something somewhere, a realllly long time ago, so I can’t trace it back or articulate it properly. But basically, it went along the lines of “no one ever really grows up. People don’t reach a certain age and suddenly have it all together or figured out. They just learn to take things as it goes and learn from mistakes.. over time, it gets easier “. Watching Parenthood really reminded me of that. Even though they are all parents, they’re still figuring things out, and every now and then, we see glimpses of who they were in their past. That little kid who never really wanted to grow up (or not, ya know). I’m looking at you, Cowboy Gill.
It’s also so interesting how different the children in each family are… I think the kid’s name is Patty? Penny or something? but anyway, she was just really adorable. One of the parts in the movie that really got to me was when she looked at the other kids having fun and jumping around, and she just couldn’t comprehend how what they were doing could be fun. That was just, ..it’s almost as if she skipped over her entire childhood. Imagine not just being unable to relate to anyone in your age group but also unable to even understand them at all, how sad that must be…
I actually love how the movie started, with little Gill at the stadium talking to an usher, telling the usher how he was a representative of all the ushers he had spent the games with over the years, instead of his father. LOVED IT and I felt that it really gave us an idea of who Gill was as a person. An individual although raising kids of his own, still nagged by his past with his father. A heavy feeling hovering over him everyday, unresolved. It made the scene where Frank goes to see him for advice just that much more meaningful. They both came clean, revealed their secrets. ahhh lovely.
Everyone’s probably seen this already but meh, it reminded me of it and it’s still a really good ad.