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Ten of Cinema's Most Clueless Parents

Today, Jen Chaney -- washingtonpost.com movies editor, DVD columnist and mother to an 18-month-old -- weighs in with a guest post.

There was a moment in the often over-the-top, doobie-filled comedy "Pineapple Express" that I found impossible to believe. It wasn't the fact that Danny McBride's character survived multiple gunshot wounds. And it wasn't the notion that Saul (James Franco) and Dale (Seth Rogen) could be even remotely coherent after smoking that much weed. (I mean, come on. If you can't accept that, you probably shouldn't see "Pineapple Express.")

No, it was the idea that the parents of Amber Heard's character -- played by a maniacal Ed Begley Jr. and a profane Nora Dunn -- would remotely consider allowing their high-school-aged daughter to date a stoner burnout like Dale, who also happens to be eight years her senior. I guess they get points for being open-minded enough to invite the guy to dinner. But honestly, they probably should have put the kibosh on that relationship long before Dale witnessed a murder and put all their lives in jeopardy. (I could get all spoilery and explain further, but it's better just to see the movie.)

Anyway, that scene got me thinking about out-to-lunch parents in movies. I'm not talking moms and dads who are downright evil -- say, Jack Nicholson in "The Shining" or Piper Laurie in "Carrie." I mean parents who are so out to lunch or self-absorbed that they don't act in the best interests of their children. In some cases, they may even put their kids' lives in danger. (Yeah, I'm looking at you Mr. and Mrs. McAllister of "Home Alone.")

With that said, here are 10 of the most clueless parents in semi-recent cinematic history, listed in no particular order. By all means, feel free to add to the list by posting your comments below.

  • All of the parents in "The Ice Storm": Joan Allen, Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver are so busy having key parties and sucking down liquor that they don't realize their own kids are ... um ... acting promiscuous and sucking down liquor. They realize the error of their ways, but only after tragedy strikes.
  • Judith Flick in "Election": The mother of the poisonously ambitious Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) isn't out to lunch. Oh no. She knows exactly what her daughter is up to and encourages her win-at-all-costs attitude, even if it means lying, cheating and ending one teacher's career. (Poor Mr. Novotny never stood a chance). Judith Flick (Colleen Camp) is the embodiment of misguided maternal encouragement.
  • Helene McCready in "Gone Baby Gone": As played by the Oscar-nominated Amy Ryan, Helene is a beer-swilling, jaded, pathetic excuse for a mom. But when her little girl Amanda disappears, you start to think that maybe the seemingly heartbroken Helene will get her act together if she is lucky enough to get her daughter back. It's a testament to Ryan's layered performance, the excellent screenplay and Helene's nonexistent parenting abilities that things don't turn out exactly as expected.
  • All of the parents in "Dick": You might be an out-to-lunch parent if you don't realize that your daughters are actually Woodward and Bernstein's Deep Throat. That's the case in this comedy, which offers a decidedly creative take on Watergate history and two sets of parents who have no idea their kids are responsible for bringing down Richard Nixon.
  • Regina George's mom in "Mean Girls": Regina is a very mean girl. But her mom (Amy Poehler) is too busy dressing in age-inappropriate clothes and trying to fit in with her daughter's pals to notice. This character is funny mainly because she's all too real. Seriously, I think I saw five Mrs. Georges the other day at Montgomery Mall.
  • Steve and Diane Freeling in "Poltergeist": It was totally not, the Freelings' fault that Carol Anne got sucked into the TV and into an otherworldly vortex. I mean, completely understandable. What I still don't get is why -- after that freaky tree grabbed their son and ghosts abducted their little girl -- Steven (Craig T. Nelson) and Diane (Jobeth Williams) would leave their kids alone in a haunted bedroom just hours before moving out of their cursed Colonial. Really, Diane, was it so important for you to dye your hair? Couldn't you have waited until you got to the Holiday Inn and thereby avoided bringing your children into such close contact with creepy corpses?
  • Lester and Carolyn Burnham in "American Beauty": Carolyn (Annette Bening) is preoccupied with her real estate career and her general neuroticism. Lester (Kevin Spacey) is in the midst of the ultimate midlife crisis, which has him focused on working out, smoking marijuana and coveting his teenage daughter's best friend. Consequently, neither of them realizes that daughter Jane is on the verge of running away from home with a kid who sheds a tear every time he sees a plastic bag floating in the air. Good job, Burnhams. That's quality parenting.

  • Sarah Pierce and Brad Adamson in "Little Children": In this drama -- like "Election," based on a novel by Tom Perrotta -- Sarah (Kate Winslet) and Brad (Patrick Wilson) get so wrapped up in their own adulterous affair that they don't think about what's best for their children or even themselves. The impact of Sarah's inattentiveness on her daughter Lucy is blatantly obvious to the viewer, but goes maddeningly unnoticed until a pivotal moment. Heartbreaking, but still well worth watching for those who missed this Oscar-nominated film.

  • Tom and Katie Bueller in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off": Look, I can understand succumbing to the substantial charms of one Ferris Bueller. He's clever. He's adorable. And on top of all that, he's the Sausage King of Chicago. But the fact that his parents (real-life spouses Cindy Pickett and Lyman Ward) don't realize he's kind of a con artist -- and continue to chastise Jeannie (Jennifer Grey) for pointing out their gullibility -- won't exactly win them the Mom and Dad of the Year Award.

  • Peter and Kate McCallister in "Home Alone": They went on vacation and forgot their son in "Home Alone." That by itself is grounds for a call to child protective services. But then they lost track of him again -- again! -- in "Home Alone 2"? Peter (John Heard) and Kate (Catherine O'Hara) almost make Macaulay Culkin's real father look good. Almost.

By Jen Chaney |  August 15, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Discipline , Guest Blogs
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Comments


Jen Chaney -- mother to an 18 MONTH OLD -- parenting expert- LOL

And a classic MM -judging characters in
MOVIES. Ha!

"self-absorbed" LOL-- Chaney is a MOVIES editor!!!

"Clueless"... um. The parenting flaws are plot devices. No flaw - no movie.....
Movies 101.

And a dvd columnist.....wha?

The faux-Liberal list is 100% middle class (natch) except for one, token, poor, druggie, skank, mom, but she's WHITE. LOL.

The most clueless parents in the movies are all WHITE people???? What are the odds?? Another MM thing!!

How did this crap get past the editor??

LOL!!!!!! Happy Friday!

Posted by: The biggest - Oh, Brother - of 'em all! | August 15, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Pineapple is rated R and some others are rated PG-13 (Pretty Gross-13). Are you parents actually letting your kids watch these movies?

Besides the ratings, most of these movies are so lacking in plot, character development and subject matter that no thinking adult much less any child should do nothing beyond throwing up at such garbage.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

"Are you parents actually letting your kids watch these movies?"

High Horse alert!

Posted by: Alarmster | August 15, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

I think this is a great Friday post. And clearly Jen wasn't allowing her toddler to watch these films, duh. On the small screen we can't forget dear old Ben's dad on Lost. Uncle Rico forever!

Posted by: RiverCityRoller | August 15, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

High Horse alert!

Are you saying it is appropriate for 13 yr olds to watch R rated movies? Or want to send a message to your minor children that it is OK to date adults?

I don't have a High Horse, just a bit of discerning taste when it comes to entertainment.

But you probably could not follow the plot of Citizen Kane...

Posted by: 8:37 | August 15, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

It's a Friday topic-can't you guys get off your soapboxes for one day and enjoy life!

Posted by: lighten up people | August 15, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Crud, I thought this was going to be a rant about the moron parents who bring their talkative 3-year-olds to the movies, regardless of rating.

Posted by: Darb | August 15, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

"most of these movies are so lacking in plot, character development and subject matter that no thinking adult much less any child should
do nothing beyond throwing up at such garbage."

How would you know without watching them?

You must be in the same catagory of the vomiting "no thinking" adults that you are judging.

Your stupidity is showing!

Posted by: Judge Notte | August 15, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

But you probably could not follow the plot of Citizen Kane...

Posted by: 8:37 | August 15, 2008 8:53 AM

Citizen Kane has a plot?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I was at the first weekend of the new X- Files movie and I wondered how a parent could be clueless enough to bring a small child who wept and screamed(heck, I couldn't deal with parts of this movie- I am a wimp)- good luck getting the 20 year old theater "manager" to deal with it. An audience member finally said " Get your %$)#*(# kid out of here" So the real clueless "movie" parents are right here in metro DC.

And Jen, you are right- the Mrs. Georges populate the malls- not just "westfield" Montgomery. Ladies, grow up!

Posted by: tired of noisy theaters | August 15, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

How would you know without watching them?

Ah, because I can read reviews!

And not depend on the 12 second teasers and advertisements. Or some star doing an interview on some talk show.

BTW, Pulp Fiction was a great movie but definitely for adults only.

Posted by: 8:37 | August 15, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Sure, Jen's Harvard-potential 18-month-old is going to sit through these movies? And follow the plot? Why would she let her kid watch 'Ice Storm' or 'American Beauty' anyway? The most clueless parents are the ones who take advice from total strangers on a blog populated by MMs. Oh, brother. I have to agree with the first poster. This blog is total crap.
Jen is an 'expert' -- only has 18 months experience. She couldn't get a job in a day care center. Those jobs require more experience than that.

Posted by: TGIF | August 15, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

The Former Marine neighbor of the Burnhams and his wife weren't exactly in tune with the fact that their son was not only smoking pot but was a dealer AND sold to Lester. Although, to be honest, Mr Former Marine was probably too confused by his bisexuality to give a rats...about his son.

Posted by: Me | August 15, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

How would you know without watching them?

Ah, because I can read reviews!

And you can tell if it's a good book by looking at its cover.

Posted by: I know a good book when I see one | August 15, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

All good teen subversive comedies (a la John Hughes) absolutely must have clueless parents in order to be funny. The whole idea is that the kids are more aware, smarter, funnier, etc. than the adults (classic underdog triumphs over authority).

One of the ultimate moments in teen-centered comedy comes in Risky Business when Joel's parents come home - after Joel has run a prostitution ring out of his house, gotten involved with gangsters, almost ruined his dad's Porche - and his dad congratulates him on his Princeton interview - "Princeton can use a guy like Joel." Classic.

By the way - the clueless parent thing has been around a long, long time. Gidget's parents let her hang around a beach all summer with a middle-aged "Big Kahuna" and a bunch of teen-aged boy surfer-dudes. Duh.

Posted by: Groovis | August 15, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

"most of these movies are so lacking in plot, character development and subject matter that no thinking adult much less any child should
do nothing beyond throwing up at such garbage."

How would you know without watching them?

You must be in the same catagory of the vomiting "no thinking" adults that you are judging.

Your stupidity is showing!

Posted by: Judge Notte | August 15, 2008 9:06 AM

Go! MMs MMs MMs MMs MMs MMs MMs MMs MMs MMs Go!

Spelling police alert!

Posted by: Lest ye be judged LOL | August 15, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Ward and June Cleaver were oblivious to the antics of Eddie Haskell too.

Posted by: Mrs Cleaver | August 15, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Ward and June Cleaver were oblivious to the antics of Eddie Haskell too.

Posted by: Mrs Cleaver | August 15, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Ah, because I can read reviews!

And you can tell if it's a good book by looking at its cover.

Posted by: I know a good book when I see one | August 15, 2008 9:30 AM

What a flawed analogy! If I were judging a movie only by its "cover", I would only look at the studio advertisements and never read any reviews. Reading a review is going beyond the "cover."

Posted by: 8:37 | August 15, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Citizen Kane has a plot?
======================================

Kane was about more than Marion Davies' hoo-ha

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Give it up 8:37. Your original comment was judgemental, you have to rely on the writings of others to determine the quality of a movie rather than watch it yourself, and the fact that you posted anonymously makes you a judgemental, clueless nobody.

Next time, pick out a horse you can ride.

Posted by: enough please! | August 15, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

My son used to love the show "Kyle XY" on TV but we stopped letting him watch it when the introduced the plot twist with the parents' marijuana use. Also, there's that classy scene in the "aliens in America" TV show where the child finds the mother's 'toys' in the closet -- though as I recall that one also featured prominently in that old Steve Martin movie "Parenting." My personal favorite are the parents in Meet the Fockers, but that's just me.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

enough please!

Yes, my post was judgmental. Maybe you have the time and temperament to watch every movie that comes to the theater, but I don't.

As far as relying on the writing of others to determine what I may view, I plead guilty. After I have walked out of more than a few movies, I have found some critics whose reviews that I can trust to guide me to movies that I would enjoy.

I suppose I am also guilty of letting my actions be influenced by others such as my numerous college professors, my father and mother, my doctor and even the traffic cop who may advise not to take a certain road.

I am not an expert in all areas of life and I will admit that I depend upon the judgment of other people.

Posted by: 8:37 | August 15, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Give it up 8:37. Your original comment was judgemental, you have to rely on the writings of others to determine the quality of a movie rather than watch it yourself, and the fact that you posted anonymously makes you a judgemental, clueless nobody.

Next time, pick out a horse you can ride.

Posted by: enough please! | August 15, 2008 10:01 AM

Yet ANOTHER MM post!

Posted by: Luv it! | August 15, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I've seen real life parents that are either that clueless, disinterested in their kids life, or have chosen to ignore the following:
1) 17 year old dating a 23 year old high school drop-out stoner who turned his large van into a "love den."
2)A 17 year girl old dating a 38 year old man. In both cases, the parents actually KNEW the, er, boys in question.

My rural high school was filled with scores of examples of teens without any semblance of parental involvement or guidance. Fortunately for me, this was the 80s and the biggest concerns parents had were cigarettes, pot, alcohol, and I think a few of the really, really messed up kids had used coke and acid.
The tragic thing is these kids grew up, never left town, reproduced and now have teenage kids who are just as messed up as their parents and meth has moved in to replace pot as the drug of choice.

John Hughes-style clueless parenting is funny in the movies.
Real life bad parenting is tragic.

Posted by: Ex Rural Kid from the 80s | August 15, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I think you all need to read the guest column more carefully. The focus of the post was not letting your kids watch any of these movies, but simply the best (worst?) examples of the portrayal of parents as utterly clueless - an archetype and trope long used in teen-oriented flicks and TV shows. Anther good example of clueless parents are the parents of faux good girl/cheerleader Darryl Hannah in the 1984 film "Reckless" who think she is perfect while she is out drinking and driving, having sex, and trashing the school building with school outcast Johnny Rourke (Aidan Quinn). The mother's ultimate expression of love is giving her daughter a credit card. (Rourke's dad was an abusive alcoholic.)

Posted by: look at focus of blog post | August 15, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

TGIF--Exactly where in the post did Jen say she let her child watch these movies? Where did she say she was a parenting expert? Nowhere. It's a fun Friday post. Get over yourself.

Posted by: beaker | August 15, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Are you all really this mean? Good god, I hate to think what kind of message you send to your kids about accepting other people!

Do you really teach them that someone who has an opinion (and a sense of humor) is on their "High Horse"? Re-read your comments folks. Quit being so mean to Jen.

Posted by: Scared for your kids... | August 15, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

They aren't called MM's for nothing!

Posted by: To Scared for your kids | August 15, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Why are all the top "clueless" cinema parents white?

Posted by: Confused | August 15, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

It is interesting to me how folks can work themselves in to a lather about the most trivial of things, at the same time miss the salient point that is right under their nose - all while ridiculing the 'idiocy' of others...

This seems like a viperish den of nastiness that I don't intend to visit again, unless I need a boost of self confidence (a la 'at least I am happier/smarter/kinder than ...) yeesh...

Posted by: LTL | August 15, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

"at the same time miss the salient point that is right under their nose"

by: LTL |


What is the salient point???

Posted by: Barbra | August 15, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Why does everyone have to be so mean on this blog? It brings me to tears everytime I log on and review the OP blog. I come here to learn more about becoming a good parent and get tips from you all, but instead I get so upset and start crying over these mean comments.

Posted by: Nancy | August 15, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I've seen real life parents that are either that clueless, disinterested in their kids life, or have chosen to ignore the following:
1) 17 year old dating a 23 year old high school drop-out stoner who turned his large van into a "love den."
2)A 17 year girl old dating a 38 year old man. In both cases, the parents actually KNEW the, er, boys in question.

My rural high school was filled with scores of examples of teens without any semblance of parental involvement or guidance.

Posted by: Ex Rural Kid from the 80s | August 15, 2008 10:16 AM

typical flyover country problems. middle aged men hooking up with teens. sickening.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

typical flyover country problems. middle aged men hooking up with teens. sickening.


Excuse me, I have two words for you, Woody Allen.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

"I suppose I am also guilty of letting my actions be influenced by others such as my numerous college professors"

More MM bragging! They just can't stop bragging, no matter what the topic!

Posted by: Ha, ha | August 15, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

"I've seen real life parents that are either that clueless, disinterested in their kids life, or have chosen to ignore the following:
1) 17 year old dating a 23 year old high school drop-out stoner who turned his large van into a "love den."
2)A 17 year girl old dating a 38 year old man. In both cases, the parents actually KNEW the, er, boys in question

Posted by: Ex Rural Kid from the 80s | August 15, 2008 10:16 AM

Heaven compared to most of the planet.

Posted by: Get real | August 15, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Why does everyone have to be so mean on this blog? It brings me to tears everytime I log on and review the OP blog. I come here to learn more about becoming a good parent and get tips from you all, but instead I get so upset and start crying over these mean comments.

Posted by: Nancy | August 15, 2008 10:47 AM

Hang in there Nancy! Don't let these meanies bring you to tears!

Posted by: Cecilia | August 15, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse


"I suppose I am also guilty of letting my actions be influenced by others such as my numerous college professors"

More MM bragging! They just can't stop bragging, no matter what the topic!

Posted by: Ha, ha | August 15, 2008 10:53 AM

What's a matter, Ha, ha, didn't go to college?

Posted by: to Ha Ha | August 15, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

"Good god, I hate to think what kind of message you send to your kids"

Here we go, somebody who clearly breaks the 3rd Commandment, (Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vein) and in the same sentence, chastises parents about sending messages to their kids.

Posted by: Moses | August 15, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

two words

Posted by: < | August 15, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Gone, Baby, Gone
"But when her little girl Amanda disappears, you start to think that maybe the seemingly heartbroken Helene will get her act together if she is lucky enough to get her daughter back."

Err. No, Jen. It's pretty common knowledge that a messed up druggies rarely gets their act together. Period.

Posted by: Luck is not a plan | August 15, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I suppose I am also guilty of letting my actions be influenced by others such as my numerous college professors"

More MM bragging! They just can't stop bragging, no matter what the topic!

Posted by: Ha, ha | August 15, 2008 10:53 AM

What's a matter, Ha, ha, didn't go to college?

Posted by: to Ha Ha | August 15, 2008 11:11 AM

Please Please Please stop this meanness. Its really upsetting me. Just thinking about how nasty you are to each other makes me cry.

Posted by: Nancy | August 15, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"Good god, I hate to think what kind of message you send to your kids"

Here we go, somebody who clearly breaks the 3rd Commandment, (Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vein) and in the same sentence, chastises parents about sending messages to their kids.

Posted by: Moses | August 15, 2008 11:19 AM

Spelling Police for the Bible thumper! Pronto!

Posted by: Tee hee | August 15, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Wow, this is my first foray over here and y'all are horrible. Mean, nasty, judgmental, arrogant, self-righteous - where do you all come from? I feel sorry for your kids if this is what they grow up observing.

But to the point of the post - I would add to the list the hateful mom played by Mary Tyler Moore in "Ordinary People". She let her own grief overshadow her son's need for love and comfort.

I'm running back to my other WaPo blog where the posters aren't vicious and bloodthirsty. You guys over here are ridiculous.

Posted by: jaybbub | August 15, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Mom to teen daughter's boyfriend: "Bye-bye, Bobby!"

Boyfriend, a moment later to girlfriend: "She thinks my name is Bobby?"

Teen daughter: "It's possible she thinks *my* name is Bobby."

-- Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

Posted by: Pisor | August 15, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

You want bad parenting?

Lot 'slept with' his daughters.

Jacob brought 'playing favorites' to a new level with Joseph.

And Issac screwed it up completely with his two sons.

And talk about inflicting trauma...How would like to see Abraham standing over you with a sharp knife after tying you to rock?

Don't let your kids near this traditional classic of bad parenting.


Posted by: Steve G | August 15, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I would add to the list the hateful mom played by Mary Tyler Moore in "Ordinary People". She let her own grief overshadow her son's need for love and comfort.

Posted by: jaybbub | August 15, 2008 11:28 AM

The topic is about "clueless" parents, not hateful parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Why do you feel the need to mock the adults on the On Parenting blog? These are real people trying to navigate a difficult world. And all you do is write mean comments and attempt to sabotage our efforts to have a meaningful discourse. You should be ashamed.

Especially you, The Sasquach (sic) (who I secretly heart).

Posted by: On Parenting | August 15, 2008 11:19 AM

Posted by: From Celebritology | August 15, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"Luck is not a plan": There is a tendency in movies to redeem characters, to have a character arc. It makes sense from a storytelling standpoint. If characters don't change in some way, what exactly is the narrative about?

Sure, in real life no one suddenly becomes a good parent, but we're not talking about real life. Given the gotta-be-uplifting ethos of most movies, having Amy Ryan's character remain a terrible mother is something of a twist.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

What does "MM" mean? (serious question)

Another example of bad parenting: Iconoclastic and authoritarian Col. Ludlow in "Legends of the Fall". He blatanly favors the middle son Tristan (Brad Pitt) who is wild, irresponsible (Ludlow, who hates the government, encourages Tristan to become a bootlegger, which he does openly and puts his family at great risk), and mentally ill. Ludlow openly disfavors the older responsible quieter son Alfred (barely even welcoming the wounded and heroic Alfred home from WWI), and disowns him when Alfred informs him he is running for Congress and questions his father's favoring Tristan, who had just abandoned his fiance. Alfred has a very sad line toward the end: "I obeyed all the rules - God's and man's - and everyone loved you best: Samuel [brother], father, and even my own wife." Poignant example of the heartache careless parental favoritism can cause the other children.

Posted by: Look at focus of blog | August 15, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Good post Jen, I appreciated the comment about the John Hughes movies--how about the parents in Sweet Sixteen or the teacher in Breakfast Club? I mean, who forgets their daughter's 16ht birthday? But that is what makes the whole thing wonderfully funny.

And as the final voiceover in Breakfast Club points out, that cluelessness is what keeps everyone "happy" in their own worlds.

Posted by: HM | August 15, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

How about the dad played by John Huston in "Chinatown"? Or Melina Mercouri playing the stepmother in "Phaedra"?

Posted by: Now THOSE are some seriously bad parents!!! | August 15, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Mean Mommies

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to rent "Mommy Dearest" for my daughter. I'm hoping she'll shape up after watching that one.

Posted by: master's degree | August 15, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

"Luck is not a plan": There is a tendency in movies to redeem characters, to have a character arc. It makes sense from a storytelling standpoint. If characters don't change in some way, what exactly is the narrative about? "

The movie had several themes: one of them was about druggies. The character arc for most druggies ends in OD. There is no way to sugarcoat that arc and be real. Ask Heath Ledger's kid.

"Sure, in real life no one suddenly becomes a good parent, but we're not talking about real life."

Um, it's the movies. That's a given. What is your point?

"Given the gotta-be-uplifting ethos of most movies,"

Do you seem many adult movies?

"having Amy Ryan's character remain a terrible mother is something of a twist"

The #1 priority of an addict is their next fix. See Ben Affleck's association (fraught with irony) with this movie, which was based on a novel.

Posted by: Luck is not a plan | August 15, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I vote for leslie and perry steiner for wondering if "forcing your religion on your kids" is appropriate.

Posted by: get a clue | August 15, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

OB is dead and gone, this is OP.

Get over it!

Posted by: to get a clue | August 15, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I vote for the parents who povide alcohol to underage kids. Can you possibly expose yourself to more liability? make other parents more pissed? is it possible?

Posted by: 21 buddy, it's the law | August 15, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I vote for leslie and perry steiner for wondering if "forcing your religion on your kids" is appropriate.

Posted by: get a clue | August 15, 2008 12:46 PM

LOL!!

But they celebrate Jewish & Christian holidays for the "culture". Culture is code for conspicuous consumption.

And Perry hiring a coach to teach his son how to effing run!!! And Leslie's constant posturing, bragging, and name-dropping! Special Shallow Man of Year Award goes to to Perry for his OB Blog, loaded with irony and laffs.

I'd write that screenplay for free!

I'll write the screen

Posted by: Stacey & her hubby are also clueless | August 15, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Jen, very funny and very brave writing for this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Jen, very funny and very brave writing for this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 1:06 PM

Jen's writing is mediocre, as usual.

Posted by: Anon for this | August 15, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Mary Poppins - The crux of the movie was clueless/uninvolved parents. What a classic!

Posted by: DandyLion | August 15, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

"LOL!!

But they celebrate Jewish & Christian holidays for the "culture". Culture is code for conspicuous consumption."

what's next for the steiners? KWANZAA!

Posted by: get a clue | August 15, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Mary Poppins - The crux of the movie was clueless/uninvolved parents. What a classic!

Posted by: DandyLion | August 15, 2008 1:08 PM

Oh, my God. DandyLion & clueless parents in the same post!! Priceless!!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"Jen, very funny and very brave writing for this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 1:06 PM

Jen's writing is mediocre, as usual."

I instantly disregard any adult that would go watch stoner movies for any child advice.

Posted by: ha! | August 15, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

what's next for the steiners? KWANZAA!

Why not? It is forced on the rest of us at public schools.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"LOL!!

But they celebrate Jewish & Christian holidays for the "culture". Culture is code for conspicuous consumption."

what's next for the steiners? KWANZAA!


Posted by: get a clue | August 15, 2008 1:12 PM

If Leslie can brag about it, it will happen.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

You are clearly a moron.

Posted by: to ha! | August 15, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I instantly disregard any adult that would go watch stoner movies for any child advice.

Posted by: ha! | August 15, 2008 1:14 PM

Perhaps you should take some kind of reading review classes. No where in this post does Jen say anything at all about getting "child advice" as you call it from movies - that, apparently is all your idea.

Posted by: also to ha! | August 15, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

" No where in this post does Jen say anything at all about getting "child advice" as you call it from movies - that, apparently is all your idea."

Jen's blog is merely another twist on the MM theme..........

Posted by: ZZZZZZZZZZZ | August 15, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Luck at 12:40:

Define "adult movie." Is it anything with an R rating or what?

Since when has the intent of movies been to portray reality?

A character arc is how a character changes during the course of a story. A character who uses drugs and continues to use them until overdosing has no arc.

Any supporting evidence for this claim of how "most" addicts end up overdosing and presumably dying as a result? (Assuming addict is what is meant by "druggie.")

The crappy mother in that movie used drugs but wasn't shown as an addict.


Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

what's next for the steiners? KWANZAA!

Why not? It is forced on the rest of us at public schools.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 1:14 PM


what IS kwanzaa? is it some made up holiday?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

what IS kwanzaa? is it some made up holiday?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 1:45 PM

Ask AB. He's the OP's resident expert on b.s.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

If it weren't for drug addicts, where would all the good rock-n-roll music come from? I doubt there would be any and we would forever be stuck with country music. Ugh!

Posted by: music lover | August 15, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Censors: Are there censors for the Olympics? I ask as one who is greatly enjoying the aftermath of the men's swimming events -- you know, the part where those talented young men roll those Speedos right down to there, and that made me wonder if the Olympics are scrutinized for potential wardrobe malfunctions.

Lisa de Moraes: I'm sure PTC is monitoring it as we speak.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

PTC, hmmm, PTC, do you mean the FCC?

Oh, wait you mean Piedmont Technical College.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Thongs for the men!: Or would that be too small for beach volleyball? It might cross the line from titilating to awkward.

Lisa de Moraes: Let us not forget, the original Games were performed in the nude. Or did I just dream that? Anyway, my point is, no Olympics costume too small...

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

the image of men in thongs sure shut down this conversation!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

the image of men in thongs sure shut down this conversation!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 3:10 PM

No gay men...........

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

As usual, the WaPo crossover blog is a big flop. What were they thinking?

Posted by: Sheesh | August 15, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I have to say, as a movie lover, I think the topic missed a good opportunity. Doofus or dorky parents, or parents who are quirky or clueless is not only part of most of the plotlines in those movies, but extremely accurate of actual parenting (no matter what they claim on discussion boards).

I'd like to see a list of REAL problem parents- the abusers, the neglecters, the degraders.

Or how about a list of TV shows bad parents? It's harder to maintain farcical parents on shows that are ongoing so you get a better read on what's just convenience and what's a real character flaw.

Posted by: Liz D | August 15, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

"I'd like to see a list of REAL problem parents- the abusers, the neglecters, the degraders. "


Posted by: Liz D | August 15, 2008 3:28 PM


Waay too edgy for Chaney. Pay attention!


Posted by: TGIF | August 15, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I am sure darn tootin' steamed that they never made a movie about us'ems.

Granny and Jethro always wanted to be on the big screen.

Granny is a rite fine parent.

Posted by: Jed Clampett | August 15, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

"I am sure darn tootin' steamed that they never made a movie about us'ems. "


They did, Jed. Ask about it at the next tractor pull.

Posted by: Movies 101 | August 15, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

well, Jed - they did make a movie about you appropriately titled "The Beverly Hillbillies." It starred Jim Varney as you and Cloris Leachman as Grannie.

Cloris was much better as Frau Bl├╝cher - but what the heck.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Well, Dang! I have a heap o' checks from Twentieth Century Fox still a-sitting here and a letter sayin' somethin' about royalties. I wuz thinkin' they's a-talkin' bout that English Queen or sumthing

I guess I recken I ought to mosey down to the bank now and see Mr. Drysdale.

Posted by: Jed Clampett | August 15, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm appalled at the obscene comments today on the OP blog. I literally was crying after reading the nasty back and forth comments. I can't believe how horrible you are to one another.

Posted by: Nancy | August 15, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

How can you tell if they're obscene? Unless you have a dirty mind, of course. Now we know the truth about Nancy, bwahahahahahaha!!!!!!

Posted by: celinedion or daneclark? | August 15, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Jed, you are a Hoot! Glad to see you back.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

OK, you flaming left-wing liberals with all the college ed-u-macation....

"The Summer of My German Soldier" was a semi-autobiographical story written by Bette Green and made into a made-for-TV movie with Kristie McNichol and Bruce Davison. The father of Patty Bergen, the main character, is a Jewish merchant in a Protestant town in the south. Very abusive, isolated, hateful to his family, bigoted. The mother of the main character is self-centered, aloof, and cruel to her children, typical Southern b*tch. The only character who has any warmth is the colored --- ooooopps, is that PC? the 'African American' housekeeper who advises Patty "You don't pay top dollar for second-hand-goods." I suggest you folks read it if you're not too deep into your self-absorbed, ego-centric little worlds.

Posted by: Trumped you --BWWAAAAHHHAAAA! | August 15, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, no white liberal guilt here!

Posted by: to trumped you | August 15, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I think whoever filmed the made-for-TV movie with Kristie McNichol should feel plenty guilty!

Yuck!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

fr master's degree:

>I'm going to rent "Mommy Dearest" for my daughter. I'm hoping she'll shape up after watching that one.

Grow UP. Read the book. It's MUCH better, and shows exactly what kind of a "mother" joan crawford really WAS.

Posted by: Alex | August 18, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

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