August 16, 2011

The Kids Grow Up (2011)

DASH AND JACK-JACK are 8 and 5 respectively, so I have a few years before I have to worry about when they are grown up and old enough to leave home.

Still, I wasn’t sure how I’d react to filmmaker Doug Block’s documentary, The Kids Grow Up. Would I be unable to relate to Block’s story of his daughter (and only child) Lucy leaving for college because my boys are much younger than her, or would I end up fretting a decade in advance about that day when my first-born son plans to move on?

As his only child Lucy prepares to leave home for college, Manhattan-based documentary filmmaker Doug Block (51 Birch Street) struggles with letting go. Drawing on three generations of evocative family footage, The Kids Grow Up is an intimate first-person look at parenthood in an age when dads are increasingly involved in their children’s lives.


While it’s true that not every frame of footage of Lucy can be a heart-wrenching, three-Kleenex event, a lot of The Kids Grow Up plays quieter than expected. The Brocks seem an inherently mellow family, and conversations about exciting or life-changing events are more somber than stimulating – making the film feel longer than its 92 minutes.

The Kids Grow Up is at its strongest when Block directly juxtaposes footage of Lucy today with her as a child or toddler, such as milestones in Lucy’s life (jumping from her first ear piercing as a grade-schooler to her driving test in high school) or when Brock cuts from 18-year-old Lucy breaking down over the incessant taping to a child-age Lucy happily proclaiming that she loves when her daddy tapes her.

In addition to Brock’s feelings about Lucy leaving, Kids also sheds light on other aspects of his life – including his resentment over his emotionally distant father (also interviewed here) and his wife Marjorie’s opinions on what she feels is Block’s clownish or ambivalent approach to parenting. He also finds himself dealing with other events while filming Kids, such as the birth of his first grandson (from Lucy’s stepbrother Joel) and a serious recurrence of Marjorie’s ongoing battle with depression.

While he does have great footage of Lucy and other family members, Brock isn’t the strongest interviewer; he waffles and thinks out loud for the right words when talking to, or attempting to comfort, his subjects.

However, whether you have a teenager who’s about to leave home or you sometimes wonder what it’ll be like when your little kid does so, The Kids Grow Up will affect you…and make you hug them a little tighter afterwards.


Is it suitable for your kids?
The Kids Grow Up features some light talk about sex, and in one scene Lucy explains through tears how she’s “pissed off” at her dad taping her so much; Lucy and her high school friends drink beer with their meals at a deck party.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
Not many mothers like to think about the day their children will leave home, so The Kids Grow Up may stir up emotions. But that’s the point of an effective movie, isn’t it?

Get outta the road, kid! That's dangerous!
Look what happened to your friend above you!

The Kids Grow Up
* Director: Doug Block
* Screenwriter: Doug Block
* Stars: Lucy Block, Doug Block, Marjorie Silver, Mike Block, Josh Silver, David Silver, Romain George
* MPAA Rating: NR

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1 comment:

Gemma said...

Been there done that, with the kids leaving home. A truly bittersweet experience. It's what you raise them to do, but then when they actually do it, well....

I would like to see this film.


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