13 January 2004 | litmus
One for parents everywhere
Bob Geldof could maybe use this film as a dramatised case history of what happens if society doesn't accord 21st century fathers a better hearing and greater rights. Here, though, in this funny and touching flick, the family is still (just about) intact - all the same, the powers that be in the wider world are quick to brand the
Dad's individuality as a threat to his children.
The story begins with a regular guy, superbly played by John Lynch, trying to bring some imaginative fun into his children's lives.
The ramifications of his lively and lovable approach, in a climate of uncertainty as to where boundaries lie, are unexpectedly disruptive and infuriating. The director quite rightly weights the story in Dad's favour, but doesn't seek to justify the bureaucratic approach of the care workers in order to make it an issues piece. We stick with our hero's sometimes tunnel-visioned mindset throughout, come what may, and get a real sense of the anguish such a crazy situation can cause.
Despite the complexity of the debate, the issues don't come at the expense of the characters - the wife and her support network are all very well drawn individuals, and there are some laugh-out-loud moments that make it feel a very real, if comedically slanted, story.
The film was really well received at Galway, where I saw it, and would be a positive one for fathers and older children to watch together, to see a strong paternal bond and what it can withstand.
Mums and care-workers won't have their minds changed, but if they realise hubbies deserve a bit more credit, and if fathers realise part of their parental responsibility is communicating well with grown-ups as well as with their own kids, this film will have the impact it should.