4Cobb - Inception
We have previously mentioned the way Inception conveniently forgets about the murderous corporation that's after Leo DiCaprio's character (Dom Cobb) and how at the end of the film he basically leads them right to his children's door. But his failures as a parent start long before that.
"Go play on that hill in the vague distance, kids. Daddy has to sit in the dark and think."
To recap, the entire plot of Inception is set into motion by Cobb's motivation to get back home to his children, whom he cannot see because he is wanted for the murder of his wife back in the States. It is his love for them that drives him as he does one last and most difficult job in order for his employer to work his magic and get all the charges dropped so that Cobb can finally get back through U.S. customs and see his kids. No idea why his kids can't just come to him, but we'll just let that go.
What's important is that Cobb pretty much risks his sanity, freedom and life to see these two rug rats -- and when all is said and done, he finally returns home exonerated and free of the guilt he had about his wife, who had committed suicide because of an idea he planted in her head that the real world was, in fact, not real.
To achieve the same effect in your own head, take 30 hits of acid and call us when the ceiling fan stops screaming at you.
In the end, we see Cobb reunite with his children in their home, and the famous ending with the spinning top.
But that brings us to the problem at hand: The ending shot of this film stirred up so many questions for the audience as to whether Cobb was dreaming that people forgot that this was exactly the point -- the shot symbolizes doubt. The doubt that Mal, Cobb's wife, felt that made her accuse her kids of not being real and that eventually drove her to suicide. The same doubt that made Cobb sit with a gun to his head watching a spinning top, hoping to hell that it would stop. The doubt that actually at no point ever gets resolved.
So Michael Caine's ancient ass can handle a flight to the U.S., but Cobb's kids can't stand a few hours in ultra-first class?
Remember, the confrontation with his wife in limbo was about absolving himself of guilt over her death, not fixing the dozens of other issues tormenting him day to day as a result of his work. Our point is, Cobb is still a psychological and emotional wreck.
And now imagine that you're his kid.
First of all, it must be a bit difficult to have a dad who isn't exactly 100 percent on whether the world around him is real. Hell, he wouldn't even be sure whether you were real.
"Hey. Dad. Do you know where the cerea- oh ... never mind ... I can see you're busy ..."
Then you're going to have to deal with people around town telling you that your dad murdered your mom; even though Cobb got the charges dropped through some under-the-table deal, that doesn't stop people from talking. And what about when the kids are old enough to ask Dad what happened to Mom? What is Leo going to say that doesn't sound like the ravings of a madman?
Seriously, why would anyone want to put Cobb near children? Wait a second -- why did Cobb and Mal even think that having children was a good idea? They had the kids after they spent their decades in limbo, right? While she was having all of her weird doubts about reality? And his job required him to keep a small object in his pocket to keep track of whether or not he was in a dream?
"Alright kids! We're either going to McDonald's, or huddling in the closet with a loaded gun. It all depends on whether this top tips over."
What chance did those kids have of not winding up in an institution some day?
3Alfred Pennyworth - Batman Begins
Alfred isn't just Bruce Wayne's butler -- he was the young Bruce's legal guardian after his parents were shot and killed in an alley.
Luckily for Bruce, Alfred appears to be an extremely caring and compassionate man, and while his parents' death was quite tragic, children have recovered from much worse. Also, he is rich and thankfully can be given the best psychological care money can buy. It's pretty much the best-case scenario for such an ordeal; no doubt with Alfred's help, Mr. Wayne can grow up to become an accomplished business man and a productive member of society ...
... or, you know, a giant vengeful bat.
Let's be honest here. It's fun to watch Batman, but it's not fun to be Batman. And if the kid you raised grows up to dress like a bat and wander the night fighting the mentally insane, you failed that child.
Let's go back for a moment to his childhood, After his parents' funeral, young Bruce Wayne blames himself for their deaths, and Alfred reassures him by saying, "It was nothing you did; it was him, and him alone." Which clearly plants a pretty big seed, because we then see that about 10 years later, Bruce is still carrying his grudge. He is so hateful that he actually attempts to assassinate the guy when he is released from jail.
Also, he spends years wandering around strange, muddy foreign countries and trying to get murdered. Which probably counts as "maladaptive" behavior.
Again, cool to watch in a movie, but not a healthy way to deal with grief. Couldn't Alfred have had at least a sit-down with Bruce about this during those 10 years? Or gotten him help, if he didn't think he was capable of getting through to him himself?
Then, after this attempt, Bruce Wayne runs away for seven years. During that time he is declared dead, and Alfred inherits everything. EVERYTHING. Then, after his adventures, Bruce finally decides to return home and is picked up by Alfred in a jet while covered in bruises and mud. Upon seeing him, Alfred says, "Master Wayne, you've been gone a long time. You look very fashionable. ..."
Seriously, Alfred? Not a single fuck you give?
"Ah, Master Wayne. So you'll just be standing around in the dark, surrounded by bats tonight? Very good, sir."
Alfred doesn't care about this man's well-being -- the man he raised as his own son. When Bruce shares his plans to dress up like a bat and risk his life every night to fight crime, clearly as a result of his lingering grief over his parents, Alfred just rolls with it. He's totally cool with it.
Could it be, perhaps, that Alfred's compliances with Bruce, as opposed to any kind of guidance or resistance, have something to do with who gets even more rich if Mr. Wayne kicks it?
"Master Wayne, I think this time you should try fighting the Joker unarmed. And nude."