“Soul Surfer” is about a traditional family with a new twist – family life revolves around their passion for surfing. The mother (Helen Hunt) home schools her daughter, Bethany, (AnnaSophia Robb) to allow her to train to be a championship level surfer. The film hints that the father (Dennis Quaid) is no longer able to surf at that level because of a knee injury. But he doesn't have time for regrets. The sport isn't his whole life. This close knit family has created a balanced life that also includes family, friends, and church. So when tragedy strikes (a shark bites off Bethany's arm), the family finds strength in God and each other. The father tries to protect his daughter from the over zealous press. He watches with concern and pride as she struggles to surf with one arm. When she decides it's time to train for the championship, he coaches her. The way the family deals with the tragedy brings them closer together. Supported by understanding parents, Bethany finds her true path and meaning in her life. (It's cool to see a true story about a teenager who embraces a calling greater than herself.)
In “Everything Must Go,” Nick (Will Ferrell) is fired from his job as a result of a dumb mistake he made during a drunken business trip. He comes home to discover that his wife has left him, changed the locks, and thrown his belongings on the lawn. Somewhere along the way, he has forgotten everything that brought him joy – like baseball, his sales career, and having a loving relationship with his wife. Instead, he filled the void with alcohol and the meaningless pursuit of possessions. Without the strong foundation of family to support him, his stupid mistake shatters the marriage and wrecks his life. He has no place to go so he sets up house on the lawn. To buy himself a few more days, he enlists the help of a lonely, aimless boy to organize a phony yard sale. He becomes a sort of pathetic father figure to the kid as he plays catch and teaches the boy sales techniques. In exchange, the kid reminds him of what he lost – the good in himself.
“Win Win,” seems to be about a traditional family with the husband, Nick, acting in the traditional role of bread winner. Nick (Paul Giamatti) is so stressed by financial troubles that his life has become strained and stagnant. Everything he once held dear has lost it's meaning – his role as a husband and father as well as his career as a lawyer for the elderly. He has even lost all joy in coaching the high school wrestling team. He also seems to have lost his moral compass when he becomes a lazy, apathetic custodian of one of his elderly clients for the easy money. He gets more than he bargained for when the old man's teenage grandson (played by wrestling champ Alex Shaffer) shows up to escape his drug addicted mother. The last thing Nick needs is another responsibility. But helping the troubled teen turns out to be a win win for all involved. When the athletic teen joins the wrestling team, it revitalizes the team and the makeshift family. When Nick's stupid mistake is uncovered, will there be a strong enough family foundation to weather the storm?
These three films present a compelling argument that a man can find fulfillment (and, yes, happiness) in overcoming life's struggles through the strength of his family.
Edited by Jana Segal, 28 July 2011 - 02:31 PM.