This Is Us Episodes 2 & 3: Call Your Dad

By: M.K. Killen

Episode 2 of This Is Us explores the emotional trauma of alcoholism and the vulnerability people feel when they know someone is looking up to them.  Episode 3 followed up with unresolved trauma from the death of a loved one, particularly a father figure.

This Is Us has consistently done a great job at validating nontraditional families, sticking to the theme that no one is perfect—even the people who seem like it.  The past two weeks they tackled the father figure.

As they delved into the depths of Jack’s alcoholism and the strain it put on his familial relationship, the writers also managed to build up a stronger sense of family.  Jack says he can’t do it on his own, and in one of the most touching moments of the season thus far, admits his failures to his daughter Kate.

A man who in all ways seems perfect, who is immortalized in his children’s memories, this moment of weakness in Jack was powerful.  A father never wants to disappoint his children, to show them he’s not the perfect role model, but that’s not how life works: people make mistakes, people have personal struggles.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Randall tries to account for and calculate everything in life.  His ridiculously type A personality that pushed him into a breakdown last season, is driving him to make changes this season.  Randall’s new role as Mr. Mom, paired with his excitement about bringing a new child into the house is adorable.

His fear for his own family by changing the dynamic—and his own thoroughly considered plans—when Beth suggests fostering an older child is equally moving.

Viewers can see how growing up with a Jack as a father, truly shaped Randall as both a father and a husband.

In episode 3, we get a glimpse into Kate and Kevin’s opposing methods of coping with their father’s death—Kate speaks about him all the time, and Kevin avoids the subject at all costs.  We also see how Randall’s biological father, Walter, influenced his grandchildren and will leave a lasting impact on their new foster daughter, Deja, even after his death.

While the This Is Us cast continues to grow, the looming reveal of Jack’s death casts a shadow over new characters.  With Kevin’s emotional breakdown after the realization he repressed all emotions after his father’s death, viewers can tell discussion of Jack’s death is imminent.

The lesson we can take away is, dead or alive, perfect or perfectly imperfect, if your memories are overall good or bad, you owe a lot to your dad.

‘You talking to me?’ De Niro still acting at age 70

By Jordon Hall, @jhoodswag

The new film Family starring Tommy Lee Jones and the man at the helm, Robert De Niro, debuted this week in theaters. So naturally I went on YouTube, watched the trailer and got all sorts of hype for this movie because it brings De Niro back to his roots of portraying somebody in organized crime. I started to think of what De Niro’s best film might be.

So before I went on Rotten Tomato’s to see their ratings of the film, my godfather (who idolizes De Niro) and me placed bets on what Rotten Tomatoes ranks as the best De Niro film.

My bet was Martin Scorsese’s 1990 hit film Goodfellas, where my godfather’s pick was Godfather Part II, go figure. So would you like to join the bet to guess what De Niro’s best scoring film was? Go ahead, place your bets.

My pick of Goodfellas was wrong, coming in at sixth place with a score of 97%. Godfather Part II had the tying score of 98% for first place, yet since it did not receive as many “fresh votes” it came in second. You know you had a good career when Godfather Part II is your second best film and Goodfellas is your sixth best film you ever starred in.

Drum rolls please, Robert De Niro’s best film of all time, according to Rotten Tomatoes is…Taxi Driver. Not a bad choice at all. Taxi Driver is the second pairing between De Niro and director Scorsese. De Niro plays ex-Marine Travis Bickle who works as a nightshift taxi driver throughout the 1970s in New York City. This film debuted arguably the most quoted line in the history of cinema with “You talking to me?” I mean, the film deserves to be his number one when you are quoted more times than the bible.

Yet there are more countless amazing Robert De Niro films such as Casino, Heat and Mean Streets. He can show a funny side in films such as King of Comedy and Meet the Parents. Let’s not forget about the film that has brought him his only Academy Award for Best Actor in Ragging Bull. De Niro is arguably the greatest actor of all time, and in my mind is so. He has had a hit movie in every decade since he started in the 1970s, and if you are saying he has not had a great film since early 2000s then you obviously have not seen Silver Lining’s Playbook, which De Niro was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor last year. He is also set to be in American Hustle, which comes out later this year, and the film is already getting Oscar buzz.

The man has been nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning two of them. His first Academy Award was for Best Supporting Actor when he portrayed the legendary character of Vito Corleone in Godfather Part II. Marlon Brando played Vito Corleone originally in the original Godfather film where Brando won the Academy Award for Best Actor.  De Niro had major shoes to fill as Corleone is the only character in Oscar history to have two separate actors win an Academy Award for his portrayal.

In his only Best Actor win in Ragging Bull, the film De Niro portrayed as real life middleweight boxer Jake LaMotta, he gained over sixty pounds and trained in Italy for over three months with LaMotta to bring this real life’s man story to the big screen. LaMotta was quoted saying he only stopped the training after three months since he thought De Niro was ready to fight professionally.

Yet my personal favorite will always be his portrayal of Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas. It’s the little things he does that make me fall in love with the movie and his character, from how he holds a ketchup bottle, to how he hands out money, how he smokes a cigarette and even how he bribes the police.

Now go out, see Family and watch Robert De Niro put on another amazing performance. The man is 70. He doesn’t have many award-winning performances left in him. Do yourself a favor and go check out this film.

And if you also don’t think De Niro is a top three actor of all time then keep your opinion to yourself and “Keep your mouth shut.”

Ryan chose family over football

By Joseph Phelan, @jphelan13

Rex Ryan is not unlike many professionals. Late hours, long weekends, little time with the family.

Ryan attended his son’s first college football game recently, instead of working.

Ryan’s day off to see his son differs only because he has a highly visible job: He coaches the New York Jets in the National Football League.

Some reporters questioned Ryan’s dedication to the Jets.

But Ryan only proved he cares for his family, not his level of dedication to a football team.

In today’s economy, family can take a backseat.

Parents have a tough time raising children while earning a living.

Ryan is no different than a father attending his daughter’s recital or a mother chaperoning her son’s field trip.

No matter a person’s income, work has to be done—meaning recitals, field trips and even college football games can be missed.

Sometimes personal moments cannot be shared and sacrifices have to be made.

But hard-working parents want to be there for their children.

That’s why parents call in sick or take vacation days because they want to be there for their children.

The father or mother who missed work won’t but in the papers.

Ryan, in a sense, is different than that father and mother, but why should he be?

After all, Ryan is another hard-working parent with crazy hours who tries to be there for their children.