Where Are All the Grandparents?

storks-movie-2016-trailer-posterI took two of my grandchildren to see “Storks” over the weekend, because it was dad’s ( my son’s) turn to have them, but dad was working. The kids are two and five, and while the five-year-old watched the movie in between requests for popcorn and candy (unfulfilled), the two-year-old took the opportunity to wander around the theatre and jump over seats and up and down stairs.

I tell you this only so you know I might have some of the plot details of this movie wrong. But I’m not reviewing it — just telling you what it reveals about the culture we live in, especially in the US. The movie was okay; both Parker and I could watch it, and that’s all a kid movie has to offer. It moved quickly, was visually appealing, and I could identify with it.

The two parents in “Storks” work in real estate. They work at home, and they sit at computers facing each other, answering phones and typing all day. They never talk to their child, who lives a rich inner life without them because he has to. This child apparently has no friends and doesn’t go anywhere for a social life. His parents are so busy working all day and all night, that they don’t have time. He reminds them repeatedly that in a flash his childhood will be over and he will be gone, but mostly they don’t listen.

No wonder he decides he wants a little brother and asks the Storks to bring him one. But when he tells his parents he has asked, they inform him that storks no longer deliver babies.

And indeed they don’t. In this movie, the storks have pivoted to delivering packages for the on-demand economy, and they’ve been reduced to the status of drones. Their factory is automated, and they have enterprise politics and a leader far removed from what the storks actually find fulfilling (which was delivering babies).

The plot is extremely complicated here, and I was running around the theatre, so I lost the thread of how we get to the happy ending, but after about an hour of near-misses and gentle conflicts between good and evil, the good wins out (PG rating) and a baby sister gets delivered to the little boy who wanted a brother. I do know that the child coerces the father up on the roof to adapt the chimney for a stork and that the father rediscovers his own childhood in manual work. The mother also gets converted, although more slowly.

And the parents learn that it is fulfilling to actually interact with their child.

There are no grandparents in “Storks.” There is no community until the end. And it’s a representation of the best of our current condition. Actually, more often than not, the family doesn’t even have two parents who work too hard to pay attention. Just one. And the grandparents live in another city or another country. A majority of my own grandchildren and step-grandchildren are not in Arizona.

What’s the solution? “Adopt” some grandkids to give your life extra meaning. I was happy to spend that afternoon seeing “Storks,” and I learned something about our culture.




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