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How Did the Movie “Life as We Know It” Demonstrate the Conflict in a Family Institution? Report (Assessment)

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Updated: Jan 6th, 2022

Introduction

More often than not movies have been used to pass across powerful messages about the society. This is a report which makes an attempt to show how conflict is expressed in the movie Life as we know it in a family setting. This is accomplished by providing a synopsis of the movie in which the role of the family is shown from a conflict sociological perspective. Academic resources are consulted in the review of the role of family from a conflict sociological perspective.

Synopsis of the Movie

Life as we know it is a comedy movie centred on two individuals, Holly and Messer, who are forced by circumstances to live together as a couple. After being set on a blind date by their best friends, who later married and had a child named Sophie, they were forced to move into Sophie’s home and raise her after her parents were killed in an accident. The real conflict came out clearly after they moved into the new home to take care of Sophie. Holly and Messer were drawn into conflicts on several occasions though they tried to minimise them for the sake of Sophie. At one moment Messer is left to take care of Sophie as Holly was busy on a catering job. Messer was disturbed by Sophie and could not concentrate on a basketball game which was to be directed by him. He returned home and argued with Holly after which he went back to the game on a motorcycle. Later Messer was apologetic about the occurrence and the two ended up sleeping together after going out on a date. Later Messer was offered a job which if he agreed to take. When Holly learnt of the job and the plan Messer had to move, she was angry ordered Messer to move to Phoenix. In a dramatic ending Holly discovered that she needed Messer to take care of Sophie and that the two, Holly and Messer, needed each other (Batts 1).

The Role of Family in the Movie

Interaction is Necessary for Conflict to Occur

The family institution is used in this movie to effectively bring out the sociological perspective of conflict. Right from the beginning the theme of conflict is displayed in a very clear way. It is worth noting that though Messer and Holly were not spouses, they were drawn to live as a family unit with a child to take care of. It was through Messer and Holly living together as a family and taking care of Sophie that the sociological perspective of conflict fully came out.

Messer and Sophie Interacting

Living in the same house made it possible for Messer and Holly to interact and this brought out their contrasts which built up to form conflicts. Sophie was the unifying factor as well as the source of the many conflicts they had. It should be noted that it was Sophie who made it possible for them to live in the same home. On the other hand Sophie drew Messer and Holly into conflicts. A good instance is when Messer had to take care of Sophie on a night that he was supposed to direct a big basketball game. Holly was committed on a catering job that night and she could not take care of Sophie. When Messer was not able to concentrate on the game because Sophie was crying, he returned home to quarrel with Holly. This movie showed how people with different ideologies can easily be drawn to conflicts. Though they later realised that they could live together, it took time; probably after knowing each other well.

What Literature says on Family Conflicts

Conflicts are bound to Occur in Family Setting

A critical review of literature gave very significant hints to understanding the conflict as displayed in the movie. Conflict has been simply defined as “a difference in opinion” (Balswick and Balswick 14). Literature has boldly declared that in family settings conflicts are bound to occur. It has been argued that when people live together, it becomes possible for conflicts to occur. Balswick and Balswick argued that strong families experience conflicts but are very successful in managing conflicts (14). Touching on the movie, Messer and Holly made a number of attempts to solve the conflicts they had; after the basket ball game Messer tried to amend ways with Holly and they even ended up going out on a date.

Building up of a conflict

Worthington made a number of observations in regard to conflicts in a family setting. She pointed out that when couples crash into a conflict they view each other from a negative perspective point of view. They do not see the value of having the other partner. This makes them to be self centred and focus their full interest on their own agenda. This attitude makes it hard for them to settle down and solve anything because listening to each other becomes a problem (Worthington 67). Worthington further argued that during a conflict, each partner is solely interested in passing across their views and this often leads to bitter misunderstanding which results to shouting at each other (67). In the movie this was often witnessed. Messer and Holly are quite different from each other and none of them was ready to compromise. A careful examination of the movie showed that Messer and Holly conflicted when they tried to satisfy their own interests. Messer was annoyed by the fact that Holly and the paediatrician were dating. He was also too much interested in the basket ball game that he regretted having Sophie around which eventually led to a quarrel. Even after the date with Holly, Messer planned to take up a new job which meant that he had to leave Holly and Sophie behind. This again brought up another conflict between Holly and Messer.

Conflict as a Necessity

It has been argued that when couples start living together in a family setting they are prone to face conflicts. These conflicts have been viewed positively as it has been claimed that they make it possible for partners to understand each other well (Balswick and Balswick 14). It has been noted that such understanding makes it possible for the couple to value each other and learn the value of compromising (Worthington 67). Messer and Holly seem to have learnt from the conflicts they had and probably that is why Holly ended up following Messer to the airport and Messer gave up his job due to his going back to where they stayed instead of boarding the plane (Batts 1).

Conclusion

Life as we know it is a comedy movie which was used to bring out the sociological perspective of conflict in a family institution. The movie is centred on Messer and Holly who are forced to live together in the same home so they could take care of Sophie. The movie displayed conflicts between Messer and Holly but eventually they seem to have learnt from each other as they decided to live together not just for the sake of Sophie but also for their own sake.

Works Cited

Balswick, Jack, and Balswick Judith. The family: a Christian perspective on the contemporary home. New York: Prentice Hall, 2007. Print.

Batts, Jim. “Review: Life as we know it.” We are Movie Geeks, 2010. Web.

Worthington, Everret. Hope-Focused Marriage Counselling: A Guide to Brief Therapy. New York: Intervarsity Press, 2005. Print.

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IvyPanda. "How Did the Movie “Life as We Know It” Demonstrate the Conflict in a Family Institution?" January 6, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/how-the-movie-life-it-demonstrated-conflict-in-a-family-institution/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "How Did the Movie “Life as We Know It” Demonstrate the Conflict in a Family Institution?" January 6, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/how-the-movie-life-it-demonstrated-conflict-in-a-family-institution/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'How Did the Movie “Life as We Know It” Demonstrate the Conflict in a Family Institution'. 6 January.

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