Celebrating “Boyhood”

Childhood, as everyone who’s been through it knows, isn’t always fun. Growing up is hard to do and parents can be real jerks some times. Then we become parents ourselves and realize our parents did their best, as we hope we’re doing. And so on. Growing up boy has been a prevalent theme in entertainment, showing up in movies and also live theater.

I was initially dubious about the movie Boyhood, thinking the filming of the same cast over 12 years contrived and projecting that the movie would be dull. There’s no plot; just a boy and his sister and two parents and a bunch of others, celebrating rites of passage and milestones. Another coming of age story, ho hum. I was wrong. The characters age in real time, over 2 ½ hours, like time lapse photography and it’s compelling and poignant.

Whiplash tells the story of a young drummer enrolled in a competitive music school who has to face the inherent challenges that environment creates, including a sadistic teacher. Some of our musician friends commented that the film depicts life in the arts before people worried about self-esteem.

On Broadway, we saw The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-Time, based on the 2003 best-selling book by Mark Haddon. It’s a National Theatre production brought over from the UK, and among the best plays I’ve ever seen. When fifteen-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone is suspected of killing the neighbor’s dog, he’s determined to solve the mystery and find the murderer. Christopher attends a special school; he displays non-specified developmental symptoms associated with Asperger’s or Savant Syndrome—he’s a mathematical prodigy yet socially awkward. It’s a family story: parents coping with a son who’s different, a son finding his way. Come to New York City and book a ticket.

Then there’s John & JenIn this two-character musical, there’s John, first a brother, then a son; and Jen, first a sister, then a mother over a time period from the 1950’s to the 1990’s. Politics and family tensions, and guilt and love. Lyrics by Tim Greenwald and music by Andrew Lippa. Add it to your NYC list.  Unknown

Closer to home, I took two of the grands to a local university production of Peter Pan, a musical, like its main character, that never grows old. Watching the flying through five- and three- year- old eyes added to the magic.

And speaking of growing up, the eldest grandson has started to read on his own. Now that is truly magic. I just hope I won’t be retired too soon from reading books to him.

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
This entry was posted in art, Books, commentary, Family, Grandchildren, Movies & TV, New York City, parenting, reviews, Theater, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Celebrating “Boyhood”

  1. Great theme for a post. It’s definitely on my mind a lot as a mom and grandma of boys…. I loved the movie “boyhood” and your post piques my interest in seeing some of the other coming-of-age type films you mention.

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  2. susanissima says:

    Boyhood was a brilliant experiment that worked well. We were mesmerized throughout the film. Love the way you organized your post around the coming-of-age theme.

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  3. Even when we learn to read, it’s still nice to be read to Lisa. And then comes the day when they read to you. I love those memories with my daughter. ❤
    Diana xo

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  4. Ejoyed your critiques. Read the reviews on “Boyhood”. Doesn’t suprise e that Shimon Yshaya is readng. He was able to read lables on packages for some time. good post

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  5. I had read great reviews about Boyhood, but like you, I was dubious. However, it was amazing! It’s not about great acting, it’s more like watching a documentary that is tender and real. Loved it! And Whiplash– I totally would have skipped that, but it was at the cheapo theater in FL and playing at a good time. Instead, it is truly one of my favorite movies of the year. Unbelievable! And as you know, I LOVED The Curious Incident; it blew us away! You are so lucky, living in the epicenter of all these great things, Lisa! I have to fly there, and then take on jet lag. 😉

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  6. Well I have jet lag when I come west!

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  7. hugmamma says:

    Missed seeing “Boyhood” in the theaters. Will have to check it out on video.

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