‘RoboCop’ Misses Chances to Explore Fatherhood, Disabilities

robocop hands on fatherhoodThe remake of the 1987 sci-fi classic “RoboCop” won’t make you forget the Peter Weller original. 

It’s a credible attempt to reboot not just the story’s nuts and bolts but the social commentary which powered director Paul Verhoeven’s film. Still, the cheeky grandeur of the source material is missing.

What I noticed as a father was that something else was in short supply.

“RoboCop” follows a seriously wounded cop (Joel Kinnaman) whose life is spared by fusing robotic technology to his remaining body parts. There’s precious little left of him, as shown in graphic sequences unsuitable for young viewers despite the PG:13 tag.

Seeing our hero reduced to a fraction of his physical self sets up his tearful reunion with his wife and son. The sequence is emotional but incomplete. It’s still Alex Murphy, dedicated father, police officer and dad, but his physical self is now clanking metal, not flesh, a change the film gives too little attention.

How would a young boy react to his father’s transformation? Can the bond they shared remain, or will it grow as father and son connect on a richer level? It made me think of what happens when tragedy strikes a family and a father loses a limb, gets ill or can no longer move his arms or legs. How does the parent/child dynamic change?

“RoboCop” is a sci-fi adventure, and we’re lining up to see our hero nab the wicked CEO trying to pull his strings (Michael Keaton, take a bow). Detailing how Murphy regains his sense of self must come second.

But the film could have goosed this angle to give us another reason to root for the character’s recovery. Films rarely touch on this element of fatherhood. Even films featuring disabilities, like “Breaking the Waves” and “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” focus on either romantic or existential concerns.

Can you think of films featuring fathers who suffer an accident and must deal with the consequences? Did it impact your views on fatherhood?

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