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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Favorite Fictional Characters, #307: Tim Lockwood

"Hello, tech support?"

I'll say it one more time (though maybe not the last time) - we've been enjoying a virtual golden age of animated films the last decade or two, with Disney and Pixar and Dreamworks churning out fare both charming and engaging. Even Sony Pictures. a relative newcomer to the genre, has made worthwhile contributions, beginning with the entertaining two-film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs cycle. It's a silly adaptation of a silly children's book, but it succeeds where so much quality modern animated filmmaking succeeds, but giving its protagonists depth and humanity. While Cloudy's star, the hard-luck inventor Flint Lockwood, bears spiky-haired outsider resemblance to so many other animated heroes (Aladdin, Flynn Rider, Hiccup...they all seem to share a barber), it's Flint's father who gives the films their moral core and sometimes even comedic chops.

Flynn's mother was the one who believed in his inventions. His father never really understood what they boy was about - Tim Lockwood was a straightforward man, a fisherman and technophobe who couldn't comprehend choosing computer cables over a rod and reel. The disconnect created an emotional chasm between the two, one only exacerbated when Flint's mother (and Tim's wife) passed away. Still, Tim did his best to raise his odd son, even as he knew common ground between them was scanty. His weary patience with Flint's ill-considered inventions and their often painful effects provides both laughs and a sense of his devotion. I think that's what I like best about Lockwood (voiced with gravelly ennui by the inimitable James Caan) - he never stopped loving his son, even while they inhabited vastly different realities.

It's a bizarre experience, being a parent - both those sobering moments when you see yourself in your child, and those bewildering moments when you realize they're not like you at all. The trick, I guess, is to accept them for who they are and support their dreams no matter how alien to you. That's a long and tortured path for many fathers and sons, especially with a disconnect as pronounced as the Lockwoods. And yet they muddle through and in the end, manage to find a sort of understanding. There's hope in that, and a kind of wisdom in the midst of the silliness.

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