My Favorite Movies – Lady Bird (2017)

24 Apr

By Tanner Smith

First thing I’ll say is I WANT TO SEE A MOVIE ABOUT THE FOOTBALL COACH CHARACTER FROM “LADY BIRD!” Or maybe a sitcom about a similar character: a high-school football coach who has to direct the school musical and puts his extreme all into it.

It’s a small role in this great film called “Lady Bird.” The coach, Father Walther (Bob Stephenson), has only about three scenes (one of which is my favorite scene in the whole film)–but when he shows up, it’s memorable.

In any other film, he’d be this disgruntled middle-aged dumb jock who doesn’t care about directing “The Tempest” for the school play and doesn’t take it seriously at all. But in “Lady Bird,” to hell with that noise! It turns out Father Walther gets just as excited about play rehearsals as he does about football plays! It’s hilarious and I can’t get enough of it–PLEASE give this character his own movie, I beg of you, Greta Gerwig!

The trope of a coach being thrown into something he’s not familiar with is an old one. But here, it’s given new life. And that describes the whole film itself.

“Lady Bird” is a comedy-drama film about a high-school teenager who comes of age in her senior year. See, right there, it doesn’t sound very fresh–it sounds like a bunch of other movies. I remember, the first time I saw (and loved) it, I tried describing to friends…and it just sounded like “The Edge of Seventeen” or “Mean Girls” or something. That’s when it hit me: writer-director Greta Gerwig breathed new life into a familiar concept.

Saoirse Ronan, one of the best actors working today, stars as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a bright but not very accomplished Catholic schoolgirl. She’s not very popular but she’s not an outcast either–the only one below her average status is her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein). Lady Bird lives in Sacramento but yearns for life in New York because she finds California boring. She and her mother (Laurie Metcalf) don’t get along–in fact, in the film’s surprising opening scene, they go from getting along to arguing in just a couple of seconds! Her father (Tracy Letts) finds it in his heart to help Lady Bird with East Coast college applications when her mother doesn’t totally like the idea. (She says it’s because they can’t afford tuition, but it’s also implied that what she means is she doesn’t want to be too far away from her daughter.)

I’m just laying out the basics of what life is like for Lady Bird in this movie. In just an hour-and-a-half, the film “Lady Bird” guides us through a full year in this girl’s life, as she argues with her mother sometimes, gets along with her other times, courts a cute boy (Lucas Hedges), meets another boy (Timothee Chalamet), makes friends with the popular girl (Odeya Rush), has a falling-out with Julie, gets back together, and on and on until the end of the film, in which she learns that not everything is about her and everything that she has known all the time is more special than she thought.

This leads to a heartwarming ending in which everything makes sense. It’s the end to a journey in which one hopes for something enlightening and it becomes something unexpected and yet still enlightening at the same time. And that’s all I’ll say about it–if you haven’t seen the film, please check it out.

Greta Gerwig, who wrote and directed the film, is one of my favorite people in show business. She became one of my favorite actresses ever since “Frances Ha” in 2013, and I made sure to see everything she’s in from that point forward because she’s so charming and lively and quirky–not just in movies but in real life too, as shown in interviews. She’s also a great writer, as evidenced before with the Noah Baumbach-directed films “Frances Ha” and “Mistress America” (both of which she starred in). And I just had to see “Lady Bird” because it had Gerwig’s name on it as both writer AND director.

If I may quote from Richard Roeper’s review, “Please write and direct another 25 films, Greta Gerwig.”

I concur. Make as many as you can, Greta Gerwig–I will see it.

Gerwig followed up “Lady Bird” with a wonderful adaptation of “Little Women” in 2019…and I’ll get to that soon enough.

Back to the football coach. This guy’s just a freaking riot. I could watch that scene in which he’s delivering the play blocking a thousand times and not get tired of it and laugh every single time!

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