Swimming Upstream (2002)
The scrapbook of most teenagers shows family members and friends at a picnic, at the high school basketball game, at Disneyland. Morris Bird III's, however, paints a different picture. This happy-go-lucky, all-American kid whose only wish in life is to get laid by his cute, but hesitant girlfriend suddenly faces terminal cancer, bringing painful and difficult issues to the surface. Picture an alcoholic father, played by Michael Moriarty, whose devotion to the bottle and mastery of self-pity keeps him from communicating with his son and daughter. Picture a teenage boy whose English teacher encourages him to write; he's eloquent, full of passion for life, and is the type of free-spirit who goes against the grain, walking up on the wrong side of the escalator. Picture a best friend, played by Ben Savage, who may not be the most mature person in the world, but his support makes up for that. Then there's a sister who nurses the wounds felt from living in a fractured family. Now try to imagine a mother who died when Morris was five; her picture is missing and the only way to get a complete sense of her is through the alcoholic father. In a moving, honest scene at the end, Morris Bird II gives Morris Bird III the truth and then some. He offers his love and desire to have a relationship with his son, giving this young man completion before he succumbs to his tragic fate.- Written by John Howard
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