Mrs. Doubtfire is slipping further down the ranks of “Saddest Movies that I’ve Ever Seen”

black and white movie

In December, I saw the movie Selma with my parents. It has become a rare occurrence to see a preview that makes me really excited. Before Selma (which is by far one of the best movies I’ve ever seen), there was a preview for the movie Black and White, and it excited me. It appeared that it would be a movie about social justice, which always makes me do an internal fist pump. Moreover, it starred my girl Octavia Spencer (War Eagle, lady!) and Mr. Kevin Costner (the fermenting process has been more than kind to him.) I did not do a ton of research before, but was more than happy to accompany my mom to see it yesterday.

When it began, I thought, “Oh gosh, I hope this is like Mrs. Doubtfire.” Was I the only one who convulsively cried in the opening scenes of Mrs. Doubtfire? I was 12 or 13 and was devastated about Robin Williams and Sally Field divorcing. At the time, I thought that would be the worst thing to ever happen to me. (Also, Peter Pan from Hook and Malin from Steel Magnolias? Match made in heaven!) Luckily, my mom made me stay in the theater and the movie ended up being hilarious and heart-warming.

Black and White was an amazing movie, and I do not want to discourage people from seeing it. However, I want to relay my review of the movie and explain why it might be good for you to see it, why it might be good for you to abstain, and how it made me think more about the mission of MollyROCK. **Special Note: I will be giving details of the movie, but promise not to spoil the climax or ending. (I can’t really spoil the ending, because I left during the climax and had Mom tell me about the ending.)

Just like Mrs. Doubtfire, I spent the first few scenes of Black and White in tears. Remember when I posted that when someone you love experiences a death, you are thrust back into the dark place of your emotions when you experienced it? Here’s what is super neat, it also happens to me in movies with characters that I do not know. {Empathy: sometimes you wish you could dial it down a notch or 12.} The movie opens with Kevin Costner at the hospital after learning his wife has died in a car accident. He and his wife had been raising their grandchild, Eloise. The rest of the movie was about his ability to care for her and the custody battle between Costner, Eloise’s paternal grandmother, and biological father. I think you all got that information from the previews/trailers/etc.

Were you wondering why Kevin Costner and his dead wife had custody of their granddaughter? Well, let me tell you why. Her mother, their daughter, was 17. She hid her pregnancy from them and died during childbirth. (Hatchet to the stomach, why, oh why didn’t my empathy gene get some of that radiation?) Unlike Mrs. Doubtfire, this movie was a version of what actually was the worst thing to ever happen to me.

If you know someone who has lost a child, Kevin Costner’s portrayal of a grieving father was gut-wrenching. Whether it’s a family member, a friend, or a parent who you have watched grieve their child– you will be able to see parts of the grieving parent you know in his character. He is an alcoholic, he is stoic the majority of time, emotional at times, he closes people out, lashes out at his friends, and he seems to be a shadow of himself. Sound familiar? So many of his characteristics reflected many of the ways that my mom, dad, brother, and I have dealt with losing Molly. The tears didn’t stop at the beginning of the movie. Instead, they flowed most of the time.

Perhaps the most poignant moment of the movie for me, was when Kostner gave a heated response to a question about his interactions with Eloise’s father. He showed such raw emotion when he explained that he did hate the man who was responsible for his daughter’s death. I wish that I could have compartmentalized my brain and just enjoyed the fictional flick, but instead my brain was zeroed in to my family’s story.

Molly and Eloise both made the choice to have sex, they both chose to hide the choice and the consequence of their choices from their parents, and they both ultimately perished because of their decision to hide these choices. As I watched that scene, I had such conflicting thoughts. “Should I be thankful that Mary and Martha (Molly’s babies) died with her? We could not have handled a custody battle between their father and other grandparents. Am I a terrible person for thinking this? I wish that we had those babies! At least Kevin (I know, I should look up his character name, but I am too lazy) has a piece of his daughter. I would give anything to have the flesh of her flesh. Octavia Spencer has her son, she should not have any claim over Eloise, it’s all Kevin has left of his daughter and wife!”

After I realized that I had missed about 5 minutes of the movie due to this internal dialogue, I remembered a question that a friend recently asked me about MollyROCK. She asked me, “Where will Molly’s boyfriend fit in to your organization?” Keep in mind that the filter between my brian and mouth is more like a cylinder when I tell you that my response was, “He doesn’t.”

As I reflected on the question, my response, and the movie playing in front of me, I have adjusted and clarified my response. Now my response is this: The mission of MollyROCK is to foster radical open conversation and kindness amongst parents and adolescents. So, this will probably be the one and only time that I post about him, and I will do so with the ROCK acronym.

R (radical): It’s not his fault that Molly died.

O (open): It’s not his fault, but I am bitter. He is still alive. They committed the same act, at the same time, and she paid the ultimate price. Although many of the circumstances are different from the movie, my gut applauded when Kostner so eloquently told the judge about his feelings toward his deceased daughter’s boyfriend. I admired his courage. I know that if I were given the opportunity, I would sound like a combination of Moaning Myrtle from Harry Potter, the teacher from Charlie Brown, and the little girl from The Exorcist.

C (compassion): Although I am bitter and angry, I can not begin to imagine the guilt and pain that this poor child has to endure for the rest of his life. I truly do not think he knew that Molly was pregnant, and no matter what he is the father of my precious nieces.

K (kindness): I am thankful that for a while, he made my baby sister truly happy. She cared about him very much. I hope that he is able to make Molly proud by the way he lives his life.

MollyROCK is something so much bigger than the one act that catapulted her story into Lifetime movie status. It’s about helping teenagers realize they’ll mess up. They’ll mess up at school, they’ll mess up at home, they’ll mess up at church, they’ll mess up in sports, and they’ll mess up with their girlfriends and boyfriends. It’s about telling teenagers that we have ALL messed up. It’s about helping teens understand that they are not physiologically developed enough to understand the solution possibilities, ramifications, and the big picture of their mistakes. Similarly, Black and White was about more than Kevin (swoon), Octavia (WDE), and social justice. It was more than the actors and characters. It was about profound grief, the effects of teenagers keeping secrets, the secret prejudices we all have, and the ability of the human nature to forgive, love, endure, and triumph.

Keep MollyROCK in your daily life, even if it’s in a movie theater lobby where you are waiting because you couldn’t handle the way it reminded you of your own life.

More than meat loves salt,

EGG

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