Friday, October 28, 2011

Footloose and Courageous--A Time to Dance

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see the movie Footloose, and wrote about my impressions of it here.  After that movie ended, I walked out of the theater and into the next showing of the movie Courageous, just a couple of screens away.  I don't normally get to see a movie in theaters very often, much less two movies in the same afternoon, but the stars lined up for me that day (meaning a grandmother showed up unexpectedly to watch the kids, and I found some serendipitous money in a shirt pocket).

I don't know if you have seen Courageous, or even heard of it.  A lot of my Facebook friends had seen it and given it status shout-outs, but I hadn't really seen it promoted very much, so I didn't really know what to expect.  I knew enough to take some extra toilet paper from the theater bathroom in with me, because it had a weepiness potential to it.  I probably should have taken a whole roll in, though.  It was that moving and that good.

The story follows 5 men (4 of them police officers), as they work, share life, struggle, and try to be good men, husbands and fathers.  Definitely not the kind of movie that is normally offered to the public.  You know, the ones with idiot men (and women) who are selfish and flighty and vulgar.  THIS movie was good.  And touching.  And thought-provoking.  It was very well made, and has been holding its own with the current movie releases for several weeks now.

I've found myself making comparisons between the two movies quite a bit, particularly with regards to a few of the fathers in the movies.  Both movies feature fathers who make tough decisions for their teenage daughters, based on their desire to be the kind of fathers that they feel God has called them to be.  They love their daughters, and they know too well the dangers of not placing protective barriers aaround their children.  They want to do the right thing, even when it is hard.  They both realize that they are not called to be their daughters' friends, but their fathers.

What is interesting to me, however, is how this protection is portrayed in each movie.  In 'Footloose', the father (Shaw) is acting out of a place of fear and control, and his daughter (Ariel) rebels against it completely, with potentially life altering consequences.  Ariel has no respect for her father or his rules.  However, in Courageous, there is also a father who has placed strict boundaries on his teenage daughter's behavior.  Although she does not fully appreciate her father's rules, she abides by them out of respect for her father, knowing that he has her back.  His protection is based on a long standing commitment and love.  And the speech he gives her at that restaurant with the promise ring?  Oh. My. Goodness.  It made me almost wish I had a girl.  Almost.  It sure did leave me hoping that my future daughters-in-law are being raised by daddies like that.

Then you have the whole dancing thing.  Anyone with even the most basic knowledge of Footloose probably knows where that father stood on the issue of dancing.  Maybe he needs a lesson in dancing from another of the Courageous fathers.  I had to keep my eyes closed for 'that' dancing scene--my measly tissue had gotten soaked way too early to make it through that scene unscathed.

Three fathers.  All loved God and their children.  All wanted to protect.  Some did a better job of it than the others.

Both movies have gotten me to thinking--what about me?  Am I doing a good job with my boys?  What lessons do I still need to learn, and am I willing to learn them?

Courageous (movie) Lauren Etchells as Emily Mitchell in ``Courageous.''

And, to take the comparison a little bit farther--I call God my 'heavenly Father', so I have to wonder:  what kind of daughter am I?

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