Linda Spector wants a child, desperately, with all her heart;
Michael Spector comforts her and plays the faithful husband part.
Since they cannot force conception, they inquire to adopt
At an agency in town allowing pregnant moms to opt
Not to end their pregnancies but give their babies to the care
Of a couple like the Spectors, bearing love they want to share.
Soon a call comes in from Lucy in Ohio, just a teen,
Willing to give up her baby, growing in her yet unseen.
Linda and her husband welcome Lucy with a hopeful joy,
Eager to endear themselves to guarantee their baby boy.
As her pregnancy progresses, Lucy and her loving beau
Grow to be almost like family, hesitantly even so.
When the planning stage is over and the promised babe is held,
Motherhood begins to beckon and refuses to be quelled.
Second thoughts begin to surface, and parental honesty
Recognizes the importance of responsibility.

Now that I’m at the end of my movie list, I can extend my reviews to other films, ones preferred by my VC, ones I don’t like, and ones I’ve never seen, such as this lesser-known parenthood film to which my VC introduced me. I’ve also changed my scoring from the number-based system of my list to a simpler measure of a film’s list-worthiness; the truth is, there are plenty of films which could score well enough to make my list based on my previous criteria (artistry, characters/actors, visual effects, etc.) but which I don’t like as much for various reasons. Some films just possess or lack a likability factor that is not so easily broken down and measured. Thus, future films will be labeled as either List-Worthy, List Runner-Up, Honorable Mention, Dishonorable Mention, or Bottom-Dweller, films for which I bear a special distaste.

Immediate Family is a quiet but lovable drama that succeeds in making every major character entirely likable and sympathetic, even when they upset each other. Glenn Close and James Woods as Linda and Michael Spector are the picture-perfect couple to raise a child—lucrative jobs, a gorgeous Seattle home, plenty of friends with kids of their own—but for no known reason, they can’t conceive, and the sight of every child is a reminder of what they are missing. Both actors deftly express the internal stress their characters are facing, as well as the anxious excitement when they seem to discover a solution in adopting the unborn baby of Lucy Moore (Mary Stuart Masterson). Lucy and her boyfriend Sam (Kevin Dillon) are perhaps one step up from white trash, but even if their punk appearance and youthful frankness cause the wealthy Spectors some unease (humorously so), the younger couple are never disparaged as lesser people. Rather than two wild kids removing the consequences of a one-night stand, Sam and Lucy are in a committed relationship, intending to marry and have kids of their own one day; they’re just not ready yet.

It barely mentions abortion and doesn’t contain the explicit pro-life sentiments of Juno or Bella, but Immediate Family certainly leans in that direction, placing excitement and importance in Lucy’s pregnancy. When she finally gets to see and hold her baby, her attempts at thinking of him as an “it” to be handed over fail in the face of her firstborn. What follows is sad yet satisfying, idealistic yet realistic, an ending both expected and hoped for. The film doesn’t idealize parenthood, even depicting the maddening stresses that come with the job, but it represents it as a privilege that is nonetheless desirable, especially for those able to support a young life.

Best line: (Michael, after loaning his car to Lucy and Sam) “Okay, let’s have it, your most paranoid fantasy.”
(Linda) “I don’t want to talk about it.”
(Michael) “They disappear with the baby and the car, stopping only long enough to rip off a few convenience stores on the way home with a sawed-off shotgun. Am I getting close?”
(Linda) “I don’t appreciate this, Michael.”
(Michael) “And we end up on Geraldo Rivera as the most gullible couple in America.”
Rank: List-Worthy

© 2015 S. G. Liput

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