Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Families and fathers...

In a fit of nostalgia this week, I recorded and watched Father of the Bride II. I have always loved these movies - both I & II.

I first saw Father of the Bride at the movies with my family when it was released in 1991. My sister and I were 14 and 15. For those who may not have seen it, it is the story of a father and how he 'manages' when his daughter becomes engaged and then married. It's a comedy with a reasonable amount of slapstick humour, but also has a lovely message. He loves his daughter, wants to ensure that this man is going to love her and care for her, and he is not sure he is ready to 'let her go'.

I still remember when the movie finished and my sister & I turned to our parents (having all enjoyed it) to realise that my father was moved to tears imagining us, his own daughters, growing up and marrying. Both of us were very touched at the time (and I still am whenever I think about it). In fact, we watched it again the night before my wedding, and felt the weight of it even more.

We happily saw the sequel in 1995. In the sequel the daughter is now pregnant, and so, unexpectedly, is his wife (as they approach their late forties). Again, lots of gag humour, but a lovely story. While it's a spanner in the works, new life is cherished even at this 'unexpected' stage of life.

As I watched II again last night, I realised why I like these movies so much. They have such a positive outlook on family. Here is a man, who cherishes his wife - "I love her as much as the day I married her" (he says) and he loves his children protectively and wants the best for them. And while much of the humour is based around his inability to cope with change, he is not cast as a useless man who gets nothing done. He is the man of the family and takes care of them all with love and dedication.

It's only 15+ years since these movies were made, but I cannot recall many movies since then like this. I presume this is a reflection of the times and what sells at the box office, but have you noticed that today:
  • Almost no movies portray healthy long-term marriages. Rarely do we see couples who have stuck together for decades through the ups and downs of life.

  • Similarly, rarely are families shown as being stable, loving and supportive, with a mutual care and love between the parents & children.

  • The father-figure these days is rarely a man of honour and strength with a desire to protect his family. Especially rarely is the depiction of a loving healthy relationship between a father and a daughter.

  • Most parents are maligned in the movies - the interfering mother wanting grandchildren, the absent father, the abusive parent, etc. There is rarely a parent illustrated that one would want as a role model.

  • These days unexpected pregnancies in movies all deal with the 'whether or not to keep the baby' question. Here it was just assumed and even though it would be hard, there was no question of continuing on with the pregnancy. (Which is very different I might add to recent similar themes in the Australian drama Packed to the Rafters, that may warrant a post another day!)
For me, in the end, the main reason I love these two movies is that it reminds me of my relationship with my parents and especially my father. While he is nothing like Steve Martin in this movie, my father loves my mother, cares for her deeply, and loves my sister & I very much. He has always wanted the best for all of us, and has done his best to provide it. And, now I have the privilege of seeing how he must have been with us as young children, as he plays with my children.

Let's have more positive role of models of families and fathers out there - we all benefit!

And thanks Dad - for everything.


Tamie said...

Hi Wendy

I like 'Father of the Bride' as well. I thought Steve Martin was interesting in 'Cheaper by the Dozen' as well. Obviously the family situation is a little more idiosyncratic but there's a similar loving, long-term relationship between the two parents and a focus on healthy family life and relationships. As you say, those kinds of movies are something of an anomaly. I wonder how intentional it is on Martin's part?

Bec said...

Though I haven't commented before, this post reminded me of a memory of my own Dad watching this film the night before my wedding too. (in fact I am pretty sure it became a tradition and was watched before my 2 sisters' weddings too.)We used to watch Dad as the cry-o-meter on a film. He was (and is more!) such a sook!
PS. I stumbled upon your blog and started reading as a Christian Mum with my own M&Z. (I think we have the same Z but a differnt M though!)

Wendy said...

Thanks Bec & Tamie for the comments. Nice to 'meet' you Bec! Isn't it wonderful to have fathers who are openly touched by these things?