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The Odd Life of Timothy Green: A Fatherhood “Review”

Each week, we will post a review of one of the four films National Fatherhood Initiative has nominated for the 2012 Fatherhood Movie of the Year. These will not be your typical movie reviews, but will instead focus on what in particular makes the movie a good “fatherhood movie.” Our second entry is on The Odd Life of Timothy Green.

movies, entertainment, odd life of timothy green, tips, fatherhood, parenting, kids, family

In The Odd Life of Timothy Green we see on the big screen that fathering isn’t about WHAT your child does; but more about WHO your child is.

When Odd Life opened in theaters in August, we wrote Are You Putting Your Kid in a Box? and The Odd Life of Parents. So we've talked about the child's perspective and the overall parental perspective. However, we nominated this film as a finalist for our 2012 Fatherhood Movie of the Year based on it’s real and genuine depiction of fatherhood – and the lessons we learn about fathering through Jim, Timothy’s Dad. 

The Odd Life makes a dad think about which dreams matter and which dreams don't. Most times, you and I dream the wrong dreams for our kids. When we dream of "the perfect child" we are typically dreaming of WHAT our son or daughter will be instead of WHO they will be as person. These lessons come about through the daily lives of the Green family, below are two such ways us dads are taught what's most important:

1) What Versus Who: Artist or Honest?
Jim and Cindy wish that fateful night—in their wishses for the pefect child—for "Our kid to be Picasso with pencil"! Essentially, Jim and Cindy wish for an artist. They get their wish! But not as they expect. You see, the Green's also wish for their child to be, "honest to a fault". The Green's are granted that wish as well. Timothy draws a beautiful image of his mother's boss at work. But upon review, he draws his beautiful picture a little to accurate, including facial hair for the female subject! The lesson for dads? Dream and wish all you want, but be careful what you wish for—you just might get it!

2) What Versus Who: Amazing Athlete or Positive Person?  
That same night of wishing for the perfect child, the Green's wish for their kid to, "score the winning goal"! Sounds simple enough, right?! Wrong! Timothy ends the big soccer game by kicking the winning goal—for the other team! Also during the game, we see another wish fulfilled in Timothy, for the Green's had also wished that night for their child to be, "the glass half-full person"! They get the positive child. Timothy is a very positive kid. So positive he sits on the bench most of the soccer game, giving his coach water at one point, totally content with not playing in the game of all games! Again, there's a lesson for dads. Dream and wish all you want, but be careful what you wish for—you just might get it!

The Odd Life serves as a great reminder of what is truly important to instill in our children – that it’s WHO they are that matters more than WHAT they do. Daily, we as dads are to cherish our children, no matter what. The dad in The Odd Life depicts a father who does exactly that.

Dads watching this movie will learn many lessons; but one of the most important lessons is this: don't put your child in a box. Don't dream up skills and things that are seen and can therefore be contained. Instead, dream and model the unseen, like character, values and respect. It's more important to be honest than to be the next Picasso. It's more important to be a positive person than to be an amazing athlete. From NFI’s perspective, this film depicts an active, involved and committed father—and we can’t ask for more than that. For this reason, we nominated it for the 2012 Fatherhood Movie of the Year. 

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Beasts of the Southern Wild: A Fatherhood “Review”

Each week, we will post a review of one of the four films National Fatherhood Initiative has nominated for the 2012 Fatherhood Movie of the Year. These will not be your typical movie reviews, but will instead focus on what in particular makes the movie a good “fatherhood movie.” Our first entry is on Beasts of the Southern Wild. 

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One of the hardest things for many dads to do is express love and reveal their emotions to their children. Often, and unfortunately, anger is the only emotion men are really comfortable expressing. This is true of Wink, the father in the highly-praised film, Beasts of the Southern Wild (it is up for several Oscars, including Best Picture).

If you are looking for a film with a sugar-coated relationship between a father and his daughter, this is not the film for you. It takes a very gritty, sometimes shocking look at what can transpire when people are faced with severe challenges, like isolation, grief and poverty. 

But it is in the conflict where the true “fatherhood magic” happens in this film. Early in the film, we see that Wink is very hard on his daughter, Hushpuppy, played brilliantly by newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis (also nominated for an Oscar). He yells at her, expects her to fend for herself despite her very young age, and even beats her. In a particularly difficult scene, he slaps her repeatedly to the ground.

It is what Hushpuppy makes of this situation that holds an incredibly valuable lesson for fathers. Despite the mistreatment, Hushpuppy very clearly loves her dad and she knows that he loves her, despite his inability to effectively express it. This is critical for fathers to understand, especially dads who are facing particularly difficult circumstances. 

For example, in NFI’s work with incarcerated fathers, one of the first obstacles we have to overcome in helping these men reconnect with their children is to convince them that despite what they may have done in the past, their children still need and love them. 

In Hushpuppy’s case, she is willing to go on a long, hard journey to save her father’s life, despite the fact that he is not the Father of the Year. No, but he is her dad, and she desperately loves him.

By no means are we suggesting that dads should be callous in their behavior toward their kids, resting assured that their children will love them anyway. But what Hushpuppy teaches us dads is that we are entrusted with a sacred relationship that is forged in love, and it is up to us to hold up our end of the bargain and give our children the love they so desperately need and want from us.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is by no means a one dimensional film – you will learn a lot by watching it. But from NFI’s perspective, it is, at heart, a movie about why fathers matter. And for that reason, we have nominated it for the 2012 Fatherhood Movie of the Year.

Have you seen this film? What did you think about it?

 

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And the Nominees for "Fatherhood Movie of the Year" Are...

fatherhood movie of the yearWhile Hollywood gears up for the Oscars, we are asking you to select the "Fatherhood Movie of the Year" by voting on Facebook for the 2012 film that best communicates the importance of involved, responsible, and committed fatherhood.

The nominees are: Beasts of the Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight), Brave (Disney Pixar), The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Disney), and Parental Guidance (20th Century Fox).

Voters can visit NFI’s official Facebook page, watch the trailers of the four nominated films, and vote for your favorite once per day through Oscar night, February 24.

The contest is part of our effort to shine a light on cultural messages that highlight the unique and irreplaceable role fathers play in their children's lives. Given the power of film in shaping public perceptions, we applaud these four films for their efforts to depict fatherhood in a realistic, positive, and powerful way.

beasts of the southern wildBeasts of the Southern Wild (directed by Behn Zeitlin; starring Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry): “Faced with both her hot-tempered father's fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love” (source: IMDB.com). We nominated the film for its realistic depiction of a challenging, but loving relationship between a father and a daughter facing difficult circumstances.  

 

braveBrave (directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell; starring Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, and Emma Thompson): “Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse” (source: IMDB.com). We nominated the film for its depiction of a fun-loving father who encourages his daughter’s adventurous spirit and who is affectionate and loving towards his wife.

 

odd lifeThe Odd Life of Timothy Green (directed by Peter Hedges; starring Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, and CJ Adams): “A childless couple buries a box in their backyard, containing all of their wishes for an infant. Soon, a child is born, though Timothy Green is not all that he appears” (source: IMDB.com). We nominated the film for its portrayal of a highly involved and loving father who is deeply, emotionally invested in his son’s life and well being throughout the entire film.

 

parental guidance

Parental Guidance (directed by Andy Fickman; starring Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, and Tom Everett Scott): “Artie and Diane agree to look after their three grandkids when their type-A helicopter parents need to leave town for work. Problems arise when the kids' 21st-century behavior collides with Artie and Diane's old-school methods” (source: IMDB.com). We nominated the film for its realistic depiction of the generational struggles a pair of loving grandparents face, for its positive portrayal of the importance of marriage, and for the important role the father and grandfather play in their families’ lives.
 

Use the hashtag #fmy12 on Twitter to get the word out and tell your friends which movie you vote for daily.

We started the "Fatherhood Movie of the Year" Contest last year. The 2011 film, Courageous, was selected by the public as the winner.

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Did Fatherhood Win with Super Bowl Commercials?

sb47Aside from all the great stories that come out of the Super Bowl from each team, let's talk the important stuff — the commercials! Since my teams are rarely in the big game, the commercials are my favorite part of the night. That said, if you follow me on twitter you know I found the Tide/Joe Montana commercial about "no stain being sacred" to be my favorite of the night.

While I'm certain my "fatherhood radar" is working at peak levels considering my working at NFI; I'm finding it more and more interesting how a brand not only spends it's money to be funny and memorable, but how much a brand perpetuates stereotypes of fatherhood in the process.

Here are four examples of commercials from the Super Bowl that are funny and/or thought-provoking, but most of them simply leave us wanting more from brands and fatherhood.
 
The Protective Dad | Got Milk?
This commercial was probably one of the stronger showings of fatherhood I witnessed with the Superdome lights going out! Depicting a dad who will do anything and that nothing is more important than his girls' milk for breakfast. Nice work!
 


The Fashionista Dad | Doritos 
Right before this dad's about to say "no" to his daughter about having tea time because he's going out to play football with his friends, he realizes she has Doritos. He's all in. Cute and funny, but still conveys the stereotype that a dad only cares about himself and is the unresponsible parent. Place a mom in the role of the father in this commercial and see if Doritos is in business by today.
 

The Servant Dad | Jeep | USO
This Jeep | USO commercial shows the sacrifice of all military families and does well to include dads. Nice work Jeep | USO and Oprah!
 

The Avoidance Dad | Kia "Space Babies"

While I am no stranger to making up answers as a dad, and I also laughed at this commercial when it aired live, it's funny but not. When one considers that what we celebrate we replicate -- do we really want to celebrate a dad making up where babies come from and avoiding the question until his son gets the info somewhere else? What's easier to say, a story about "space babies" or that babies come from a man and woman who are married to each other, like the characters in the commercial? Just a thought...
 

How do you think dads were portrayed in the Super Bowl commercials? 

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photo credit: marsmet481

Throwback Thursday—Idol's Randy Jackson Gets Fatherhood Award

In 2003, National Fatherhood Initiaive ran the "Golden Dads Campaign" on Father's Day weekend to raise awareness about the importance of involved, responsible, and committed fathers in the lives of their children. We gave several celebrity dads Golden Dads Awards, including the American Idol judge Randy Jackson.

From Randy Jackson's American Idol bio:
A music industry veteran of more than 20 years and a Grammy Award-winning producer, Randy Jackson began playing bass guitar at age 13 and got his big break when he joined the band Journey. A prolific producer, Jackson spent eight years as Vice President of A&R at Columbia Records, followed by four years as Senior Vice President of A&R at MCA Records. However, it was AMERICAN IDOL that propelled Jackson into the mainstream.

While working on more than 1,000 gold and multi-platinum albums, which have sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, Jackson's amazing talent; vast studio knowledge; and performing, touring and record company acumen have made him one of today's most coveted music industry experts. Jackson currently resides with his wife and children in Los Angeles.

About the "Golden Dads Weekend" from 2003:
The "Golden Dads Campaign" was a partnership between NFI, Rendezvous Entertainment and Warner Bros. Records to promote responsible fatherhood by recognizing and rewarding the acts of good fathers in five cities across the nation on Father's Day weekend.

The Golden Dads Campaign was inspired by the Rendezvous Entertainment album, "Golden Slumbers: A Father's Lullaby," a collection of classic and unexpected lullabies made especially for fathers and their children, featuring the Grammy-nominated performances of Dave Koz and Jeff Koz.

100 Golden Dads were awarded in Los Angeles, along with 100 fathers in each of the following cities: Atlanta, Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., for a total of 500 Golden Dads across the country.

Visit our Fatherhood Award page to see a full list of Fatherhood Award recipients through the years.

My Apology to My Junkyard Dawg Dad

This is a guest post by Larry Elder. He is author of Dear Father, Dear Son now available for order on www.larryelder.com. If you would like to blog for us, email here.

Heard of Tiger Moms? I had a Junkyard Dawg Dad. 

For a very long time, I hated him. His anger. His volatility. His surliness. Today, they’d use the term “emotionally unavailable.” 

Larry Elder

“Dear Father, Dear Son,” my new book, is a 247-page apology to this very special, WWII retired Marine, my father. I knew virtually nothing of his life, and never had a conversation with him, until I was 25.

From the time I was fifteen -- when my father and I had a big, long-time-coming fight -- until ten years later, we did not speak to each other. I wanted nothing to do with this volatile person who, for reasons that escaped me, managed to marry my mother. Our little home, where my two brothers and I slept in the same bedroom, instantly became a place of tension the moment Dad set foot in the front door. Was it supposed to be like this?

After ten years I sat down and talked to the man -- for eight hours. 

Why, I wanted to know, were you so damn angry all the time? Why did you whip the three of us -- my two brothers and me -- so furiously? Did you know that the three of us were scared to death of you? Did know that this fear crossed into hatred? Did you care? Does this even matter to you?

An only child, my father was a black boy born to an illiterate single mom in a rented room in Athens, Georgia. He was a child on the eve of the Great Depression in the Jim Crow South. He did not know his birth date, and used the one arbitrarily written down by a teacher when he started school.

He never met his biological father. His mom raised him with a series of boyfriends, one of whom was a man named Elder. That man never married my dad’s mother. Worse, he was an alcoholic who beat both my dad and his mom. 

One day my dad came home from school and made too much noise for his mother and her then-boyfriend. They all quarreled, his mom siding with the boyfriend. My dad was thrown out of his house at age 13 -- never to return. A year later the Great Depression began.

He dropped out of school and looked for work wherever he could find it. After a series of jobs as a yard boy, shoeshine boy, hotel valet and cook, he finally landed a prestigious job as a Pullman porter, then the largest private employer of blacks in the country. It was as a Pullman porter that Dad first visited California. He thought of it as a less prejudiced place, loved the climate, and made a promise to someday return. 

After Pearl Harbor, he joined the Marines. Why the Marines, I asked? “I liked the uniforms,” he told me, “and they seemed to always go where the action was.” So they made him a cook. 

He trained at Montford Point, the segregated Marine base next to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He was soon put in charge of food services, and became a staff sergeant, stationed on Guam in the south Pacific. 

But when discharged, he could not find work as a cook despite his now-considerable experience. He went to an unemployment office in Chattanooga, Tennessee where he was instructed by a white clerk to walk through the “proper door.” So he goes out into the hall, goes through the “colored only” door to the very same clerk who told him to go through the "proper door.” “Now, how may I help you?” she said.

There has to be better place than here, he thought. Dad left for California.

Restaurants in Los Angeles did not tell him -- as they did in the South -- that he’d not be hired because of his race. Instead, they refused to hire because, as he was told, “You have no references.” 

He worked two full-time jobs as a janitor, and attended night school to get a G.E.D. He averaged less than four-and-a-half hours of sleep for years. Pressure, lack of sleep, “running from job to class,” he told me, makes a man a little grumpy and impatient -- especially when raising three loud boys with a stay-at-home wife. 

He worked so hard, he said, because he never had a father, a secure home and “food in the icebox” to come home to after school. “So,” he said, “I did my best to give you kids what I never had.” He told me that growing up without “a real father in the house” was not a death sentence. If you work hard, and people “see you struggling,” they will help. But it’s up to you to play the cards you are dealt the best way you can. And the best way is through hard work.

Randolph Elder lived to see the completion of this book. He died two months before what we believe would have been his 96th birthday. I got a chance to read “Dear Father, Dear Son” to him. His verdict? “I have no idea,” he laughed, “why anyone would care about my little life.”

They care, Dad. For those born and raised in tough circumstances, you show the path: While we cannot control our circumstances, we are in complete control of our effort.

What would you tell your dad if you could sit down with him like Larry did his father?

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