This is the only family movie published this last Christmas. It is not a Christmas movie, but it is a movie about family coming together & reconciling the different generations. Family movies are quite rare these days, & seldom successful. One suspects that they are unpersuasive. Maybe the American family is nothing to laugh at… Being suspicious of conflict resolution, we had better look at the two generations apart.
The grandparents are baby boomers, the generations now in charge of America, so to speak, born after WWII. Their children, parents in their own turn, would be born in the ‘60s or 70’s. Their children are born around 2000. Grandpa did not fight WWII or Korea – nor is he accused of beating his children or discriminating against women; but he is no hippie; & time passing makes even him look damn reactionary.
Grandpa loves baseball; all his life, he wanted to be a sportscaster, confidently to tell Americans about the game, about the greatness he has seen. He never made it to the major leagues, but he loves the game. His wife was a weather girl. Now, she minds their home, their only kid all grown up… She hosts a class for women of a certain age who enjoy learning the slippy art of pole dancing. She fiercely wants a chance at grandparenting, which she calls a second chance.
She always followed him, she says, for 35 years, wherever his job took him. Her daughter accuses her, she always sided with her husband. The old people say nothing about themselves, except in defense, so we need to listen to the accusations. For example, grandma says, children grow up & leave, & her husband is all she has left. Grandma learns her daughter is ashamed of her & wants to make amends, to earn approval.
The grandparents introduce competition in the life of their family. They also show everything wrong with competition. Someone is always heartbroken in baseball. Winning means other people lose. The best enjoy their triumph among the tears of their competitors. Nobody feels sorry for you if you lose, because they think you deserved it. The best you have is another chance next year. But that’s the immortality of the game. You yourself get old & must then die.
Family compensates for mortality, as well as failure. That’s why it’s important not to fail at building a family. You love your children even if they are not champions; they love you even if you were never a champion. Strangely, the grandparents do not want to hide what is simply the best behind the best available to you. They remember the best & insist on competition to achieve the good.
A Sunday afternoon comedy for the family