Against All Odds: On Being Dragged Against My Will By My Teenage Daughter to See James Franco’s New Movie

by Lorrie Goldin

Would you cut off your right arm to save your child?

That’s a no-brainer. Of course you would.

OK, something harder, then: Would you go watch a movie about a guy who cuts off his right arm when your 18-year-old begs you? Hmmm. Even parental self-sacrifice has its limits.

“Can’t we see something else?” I whine when Ally suggests seeing 127 Hours, which chronicles the real-life wilderness ordeal of Aron Ralston after his arm is pinned by a boulder. “Maybe Jackass 3D is still playing?”

“No. I really want to see 127 Hours,” Ally insists. “Close your eyes during the gory parts. Or go read in a café if you can’t hack it.”

Since it’s never a good idea to turn down a teenager who wants to spend time with her mom, I sighed and grabbed my purse. Ally wanted to get there early, predicting a crowded theater for this Oscar nominee in the run-up to the Academy Awards.

“On a beautiful sunny afternoon, right before Valentine’s Day, about a guy who cuts off his arm? Not exactly your standard date movie, even if it stars James Franco,” I countered.

We had our pick of seats, and would have if we’d gotten there 20 minutes late. As the lights dimmed, I thought about all those Disney movies I’d had to exit hastily with a sobbing preschooler who was terrified by loud soundtracks and threats to innocent puppies. Now I could look forward to my own leisurely retreat with a steaming latte while my daughter soldiered on alone.

Unless, of course, she needed me to tell her when it was safe to look at the screen again. So I stayed, wondering if this particular ordeal had made it into The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. (How to saw off your own arm ─ not how to endure a grisly movie or raise teenagers.)

Knowing beforehand that a man facing certain death not only wrote a bestselling memoir, but secured the movie rights, eased the tension considerably. Ally and I both loved 127 Hours. Besides, it only ‘does grisly’ for a very few minutes. Not once did Ally and I have to avert our eyes. And who would want to look away from James Franco? He’s such a force of life that his predicament practically evokes envy. What inspires him to persevere against all odds is recognizable to any parent.

I’m glad my daughter dragged me out against my will, pushing me, as children so often do, beyond what I thought I could bear.  Plus, the moral of the movie is to always let someone know where you’ll be, and always return your mother’s phone calls.

What more perfect way to pass an afternoon together?



Lorrie Goldin is a writer and psychotherapist. Her work has appeared on NPR/KQED, and in various publications, including the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. Lorrie is married and the mother of two daughters, for whom she would sacrifice life and limb. Visit her website at (And to read an awesome interview given by James Franco to the Poetry Foundation, click here.)



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