The Kids Grow Up

The Kids Grow Up

Lucy, from THE KIDS GROW UP, a film by Doug Block. Photo courtesy Shadow Distribution.

The Kids Grow Up (2009/2010)

Opened: 10/29/2010 Limited

Angelika/NYC10/29/2010 - 11/11/201014 days
Sunset 5/LA11/12/2010 - 11/18/20107 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Genre: Documentary

Rated: Unrated

Short Synopsis

Documentary filmmaker Doug Block (51 Birch Street) has captured much of his daughter Lucy's life -- and their relationship -- on camera. Now his only child is 17 and preparing to leave home for college. Lucy's imminent departure is the springboard for The Kids Grow Up, a funny and poignant look at modern-day parenting, marriage and the looming empty nest.


In his internationally acclaimed documentary 51 Birch Street, Doug Block examined his parents' seemingly ordinary marriage and uncovered a universal story about the mystery of family. The Kids Grow Up is a follow-up and companion piece in which Block turns his lens on his family once more, this time from his own vantage point as a parent, to tell a larger story about fathers and daughters, marriage and modern-day parenting.

Lucy Block is Doug's only child, and over the years he has captured much of her life -- and their close relationship -- on camera. An established documentary filmmaker, Block has long mulled incorporating the footage into a film some day about the parenting experience. It's only when Lucy turns 17, however, and is a year away from leaving home for college, that he begins to fully understand the real subject of his film -- the emotionally-charged period when children separate from their parents and parents must separate from their children.

The Kids Grow Up is Block's funny and poignant account of his year of learning to let go. It turns out to be an unexpectedly turbulent time of transition for the entire family. Doug's step-son Josh (14 years Lucy's elder) has a child, making Doug and his wife Marjorie first-time grandparents. Marjorie endures an episode of clinical depression, her first in 13 years. Lucy has her first serious romantic relationship, then grapples with whether or not to break it off before she leaves. And Doug is in complete denial of his advancing age even as he braces for Lucy's departure and the looming empty nest.

Fluidly moving back and forth in time, we see Lucy blossom from precocious kid to serious and selfpossessed young woman over the course of the film. In the process, the eternal father-child struggle for control versus independence plays out through the camera with great warmth and humor. Marjorie expresses frustration with Doug over his "buddy-buddy" relationship with Lucy, and how it signifies a larger unwillingness to grow up. Meanwhile, Doug's ongoing effort to come to terms with the rigidly authoritarian upbringing of his own father illustrates just how far parenting styles have changed over the generations.

Told from Block's engaging first-person perspective, The Kids Grow Up breathes fresh insight into the wonderful and daunting relationship between parent and child. Sons and daughters frequently make films about their parents, including Block himself. This time, however, a parent is making a film about his child, albeit in an era when kids grow up faster and "baby boomer" adults stay younger longer. As Doug grapples, often less than gracefully, with letting go of his daughter, it becomes apparent that The Kids Grow Up is not just Lucy's coming of age story but very much her father's as well.