At the start of Beauty and the Beast, maybe 15 minutes in, Princess Belle is dancing in a meadow. She breaks into song as one does. What I see, as a father, is not the story of a woman who falls in love with an abuser. Well, I do see that. But what I see as a suburban father (and homeowner) is a field full of weeds. Oh, I’m sure others may call them “wildflowers” or “set design.” However, to the highly trained dad brain, I call them “shit that ruins my yard.”
Princess Belle needs to lay down some weed and feed. A whole crap ton, actually. She would probably be better suited to just going down to the local gardening store and getting a sprayer and a truck delivery. Seriously, she needs to buy it in bulk.
And I’m a little miffed at the Beauty and Beast village. No father figure in town has stepped up with his weed spreader to take care of the problem. If you don’t nip it in the bud now, at the source, it’s only going to spread. Then you are going to have the HOA coming down on your ass. Who needs that?
This is what fatherhood and its consequence — dad brain — has done to my movie watching. I constantly get pulled out of the story because I can no longer ignore some things that I see. I try to, but I can’t. The movie will be going along fine until I see something, that as a suburban father, makes me cringe.
Turn out the damn lights!
Take Blade Runner, both the old and the new movie. They are both very dark movies and I don’t just mean the subject manner. Hey, I’m all down for the robot love of the future. Apparently, all this robot love takes place at night. Which means a lot of lights. But here’s the thing, even with all those lights — neon and colorful — it’s still very dark. My dad brain starts to wonder: how much electricity they are wasting?
I know that shit isn’t free in the future. Is there some Blade Runner dad going around turning off all those lights when no one needs them? And if he is, he’s probably dying inside because it’s obvious they are using the wrong wattage. That light isn’t bright enough. This means they probably aren’t using the good energy-saving LED kinds. With so many lights to change, it’s probably the cheap knockoff shit which means they burn out a lot. How often do they have to replace those bulbs? Whoever runs that city is just making more work for dad. I would totally watch a movie where utility bills don’t exist. It would be some post-apocalyptic thriller where a dad has to scrounge around for the proper wattage light bulb and eat people on occasion.
Stop messing with my property values!
Marvel superhero movies send my inner rage out of control.
When Hulk smashes into a building, what I see is property taxes going up. Oh, sure, the buildings probably have insurance. But that means they are going to have to make a claim, which means rents are going up. Don’t Millennials have enough to worry about? Rents are already out of control.
And we all know that debris is going to ruin sidewalks and that’s the real rub, where the real consumer is going to get hit. Sales tax will have to go up to repair those streets. I don’t see Captain America out there with a hard hat laying asphalt. And let’s be clear, I can’t welcome all those Millennials into the suburbs. That will make my taxes go up, with all their demands for affordable housing.
Then the Avengers will follow and — bam — my sidewalks get jacked up. What happens if they break a water line? Who’s going to pay for that shit? If it’s on my property, me, that’s who. I’m going to have to sit out in the front of my house with my water hose, spraying down aliens and Iron Man while screaming “Get. Off. My. Lawn!” And, I’ll mean it. Suburban dads have lawyers. I’m going to sue.
Killer little plastic bricks!
Every Lego movie makes me cringe. Sure, they are clever and action-packed. However, when there’s an explosion in a Lego movie, I see a thousand tiny parts going everywhere. Those tiny little Lego bricks hurt like a son of a bitch when you step on them in the middle of the night. It’s like I have PTSD from Lego injuries. The center of my foot gets sore just thinking about it.
And they jack up the vacuum cleaner, especially those clear ones that I can’t see. That’s a half hour just to fix the vacuum cleaner. Then you’ve got a busted scene and someone has got to put it back together. Yeah, that’s going to be dad. Three hours of work just so that I can do it all over again when Batman comes screeching through.
Finally, dad brain teaches a good lesson
Seriously, watching movies is exhausting with dad brain.
Aliens came on recently, the second one, the one that’s really good. Ripley was getting ready to beat some mother queen ass.
“Little Hoss!” I screamed. “Get in here!”
“What?” she asked.
“Come here and watch this movie.”
She sat and together we enjoyed Ripley running around trying to save Newt. The little girl gets taken, the mother Queen lays some gross-looking eggs, Ripley saves the day and they escape.
Little Hoss buried her head into my shoulder, right at the good part where Ripley doesn’t know that the Queen smuggled herself on board. Little Hoss knows something is coming. She can feel the tension of the scene.
“Look, baby, you need to watch this,” I said.
“Is it scary?”
“Yeah, totally. Watch.”
Sometimes being a father means facing those fears together.
The Queen rips Bishop in half. Little Hoss screams. Ripley runs away, leaving the little girl.
“She can’t leave! She can’t leave Newt!” Little Hoss yells at the screen. “Be brave, Rip!”
And then Ripley shows up in a front-loader robot to kick some alien ass. Little Hoss cheers. I cheer, even though I have seen this movie a hundred times. The fight is on.
“Get her! Get the Queen!” Little Hoss says. She’s jumping up and down.
“See that honey!” I said to my daughter. “That, that is what I wanted you to see. When you grow up, be Ripley. That’s who you have to be!”
A dad’s brain never turns off, I don’t think it can. That doesn’t mean that it always sees the bad things, though. Sometimes it sees the awesome and takes the opportunity to show his daughter how to jump in some heavy equipment to throw monsters out of the airlocks.
But yeah, when I see an airlock, what I think is “Close that thing, you are letting all the cool air out. Do you have any idea how high our electric bill is? Were you raised in a barn?”