What’s the story, Hollywood? Let’s have justice for movie dads

Fathers are just ordinary mortals but the downbeat way they are depicted in films takes the whole tin of biscuits

Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) and her father, David Gelbman (Jason Bayle), in Happy Death Day. “Here’s little downer daddy, all scrunched up on his restaurant seat.”

Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) and her father, David Gelbman (Jason Bayle), in Happy Death Day. “Here’s little downer daddy, all scrunched up on his restaurant seat.”

 

Anyone annoyed by the father figures in movies?

Well, here’s one daddy who is.

I’m the father of a teenage daughter and I’m more than miffed by the naffness of the deadbeat or despot dads my once-smiling, little cherub princess has been watching.

I get the fact that Daddy can’t be Mr Big forever; a girl must break away and become her own person. She must deal with the fact that Daddy has feet of clay.

There’s one daddy character in particular who took the whole tin of biscuits for me recently.

We did a fast-food fling followed by scary movie thing with our kids recently. In reality, we plea-bargained with our 12-year-old son and nearly 14-year-old daughter to watch a movie in the cinema with us and they eventually caved.

Happy Death Day was playing.

In it, sassy college teen queen Ridiculous Makey-Uppy American Name . . . okay, it’s Tree . . . wakes up in the dorm of goody-two-shoes Carter after getting wasted the previous night. It’s her birthday, and after ignoring the phone call from her dad, she wise-asses her way through campus, all sassy set-ups and sarky put-downs, stopping off along the way for a furtive rendezvous with her married lecherer, I mean lecturer, professor.

Tree is mean as well as magnificent; we see her ignoring the friendly Asian girl who waves hello outside her college house, as she sashays in to the sarcastic greeting from her not-so-secretly seething loner room-mate Lori.

Tree is crabby.

A few costume changes later, Tree goes out for another night on the tiles, only to end up being slashed to death by a silent figure in a creepy Elmer Fudd mask. Tree gets the chop.

She wakes up in the same dormitory, it’s still her birthday and Carter is there to serve her sympathy and headache tablets.

This is Groundhog Day with blood-dripping baseball bats and Tree is felled in a variety of ways as she tries to discover who her killer is and somehow end her deja with a vu to staying alive. And no, it’s not Justin Timber . . .

American blockbusters

It’s not all gore to the floor: Happy Death Day is played as much for laughs, and there’s that fortune cookie morality thing American blockbuster movies can’t seem to resist. This time it’s smart, self-centred college hottie realises she has been, like, a total bitch . . . yada, yada, yada. Tree grows!

In fairness, it’s really clever and self-aware, with some cracking lines, and Tree herself, played by Jessica Rothe, is terrific. But there’s the scene in a restaurant after she finally agrees to meet her dad for a birthday dinner that riled.

After all those babes and hunks we’ve been meeting, here’s little downer daddy, all scrunched up on his restaurant seat, so pleased his little darling has finally taken his call. He’s sitting there like a pet dog whose owner has finally opened the back door to let in, and just so grateful to be let up on to his seat.

This guy is balding, squat and blinky eyed, like a mole in a jacket and too-big tie. It’s all welling eyes and ground-down victim.

By now we know his wife has died, and Tree’s troubles have come from putting off dealing with the death of her wonderful, idealised mom.

Tree has cut out her dad to avoid the grief and loss he represents. Rootless Tree has had to lop off this fatherly fungus.

Now, how this dowdy dad was ever with perfect mom, or managed to father the bodacious, if withering on the inside really, Tree, is hard to credit.

Loser

This loser whose phone calls she has ignored for most of the movie, has finally shown up for what seems like about 30 seconds of this full-length production.

Does he forgive his pouting princess’s horrible behaviour? The moist hand of forgiveness reaches across the crisply perfect table top and . . . stop it, already!

Idealised mommy, gorgeously flawed popette with secret heart of gold, model-cool college guys and gals and a Mr Perfect who will wait for his secret princess, okay, fine . . . but yet another drippy dad character?

What’s the story, Hollywood?

Maybe I should start a “justice for movie dads” thing here, to ramp up the hipness factor for the big-screen paterfamilias? Here’s Rad Dad!

How about a ratings system for daddy dudeness – starting with a “1” for Chevy Chase as cretinous Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Vacation series, working up to a 10 for Lawrence Fishburn as formidable “Furious” Styles in Boyz n the Hood? Now there was one top dad!

Okay, we can’t expect all our movie daddy role models to be perfect Atticus Finches, or nicely-ageing Harrison Ford types, but surely we can do better than some left-over loolah from a Looney Tunes cartoon?

That’s all, folks!

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