Sunday, June 19, 2011

What a Dad Does

I just missed photographing Elliot and ET cycling by.
Yesterday I asked on Twitter and Facebook if I should go see Green Lantern or Super 8. I already knew I wanted to see Super 8 a lot more than GL, but damn if the superhero trailer wasn't sexy and flirty and REALLY tempting. Big, stupid summer fun based on a cool comic book wasn't enough though for me to forego seeing a throwback to my childhood.

I am old enough to have gone to the movies with my entire family as a teenager. We went to see Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981 (it wasn't Indiana Jones and... back then) because Dad wanted to go. Raiders reminded him of old movie serials and just had a sort of Saturday matinee feel to it. We'd been to see Star Wars (A New Hope) in '77,  Close Encounters of the Third Kind also in '77, Superman in '78, The Empire Strikes Back in '80 and would go to see E.T. the Extraterrestrial in 1982. These are pivotal movies for me and my Dad was there with us for all of them. (He even created an ET sculpture out of fruit for my mother's birthday later on. It was eerie to open the refrigerator door and see an alien head there, but that's another story.)

Super 8 recalls those great movies of my youth. It's also unafraid to channel the classic SF and monster movies of the 50s. Set in a steel town in Ohio in 1979, Super 8 is really about loss. Joe, the main character, is trying to get through the grief of his mother's death as is his father. The Army has lost a Great Big Secret. Dr. Woodward (the catalyst for the film's story) has lost his innocence, as do all the children in the film. There is redemption in the end and that's part of what makes the film work. It's a solid film, well told and I really enjoyed it.

Is JJ Abrams on par with Spielberg, Lucas or Donner as a storyteller? Not yet. One day, though, he may be to my son, who went with me last year to see Abrams' version of Star Trek and yesterday to see Super 8. I look up at the moon and see possibilities because my dad encouraged me to dream about such things by taking me to the movies. It was a way for us to connect. I'm trying to do the same thing with my son. I hope that he dreams big and tries hard.

That's what my dad did for me.

Thanks, Dad. And Happy Father's Day.