"Honor Thy Father"
What You Need To Know:
FLAG DAY is a well-acted independent drama featuring excellent performances by Sean Penn as the father and by Penn’s daughter, Dylan, as the adult daughter. It has some powerful, heartrending emotional moments, but the plot and character situations aren’t always clear. FLAG DAY is about honoring your father, even though he may be an unreliable, troubled person who squanders his blessings. So, at the end, the daughter seems to find a way to do that. FLAG DAY has lots of strong foul language and adult themes, however. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.
FLAG DAY is an impressionistic drama about the relationship between an unreliable, criminal dreamer and his daughter, which has many ups and downs over 20 years after he abandoned her troubled alcoholic mother in 1975. Based on a true story, FLAG DAY has some powerful emotional, heartrending moments, but the plot isn’t always clear, the characters lose their way several times, and there’s lots of strong foul language.
Narrated by the daughter, Jennifer Vogel, and told in flashback, the movie opens in 1975. Jennifer’s father, John, is something of a dreamer and a con man, and her mother, Patty, is alcoholic. Jennifer adores her father and is protective of her younger brother, Nick. However, John has bought a farm he can’t afford, and his relationship with Jennifer’s mother is going downhill.
One day, John abandons the family for his younger mistress, but Jennifer still loves her father and doesn’t get along with her mother. So, when John comes for Jennifer and Nick to live with him and his girlfriend, Jennifer is overjoyed.
Jennifer and Nick spend an idyllic summer with their father until he gets in trouble with some creditors and sends them back to their mother. However, her mother is having more problems than ever with her alcoholism, and Jennifer becomes an unruly teenager and somewhat of a delinquent.
Jennifer’s mother eventually seems to turn around her life and marries a man with a stable job. However, one evening, Jennifer’s stepfather gets drunk and tries to crawl into bed with Jennifer. Naturally, Jennifer is traumatized by this behavior and becomes extremely upset when her mother tries to play it down. So, Jennifer runs away from home and gets involved with drugs. She turns around her life, though, gets a job and tracks down her father.
Jennifer cleans him up and makes her father get a regular job. John lies to her about getting some kind of office job, however, when he only got a job mowing grass at a small community airport and moving the planes around with a small tractor. Jennifer cuts him some slack, though, because she realizes her father is embarrassed about getting a manual labor job. On the side, John tries to work a small business involving a pants-stretching device. The business goes sideways, so John robs a bank but gets caught and sentenced to a 15-year stint in prison.
Jennifer now realizes her father is just an unreliable dreamer and a con man. She decides to have nothing further to do with him and pursues a career in journalism. Several years later, she’s working at an alternative newspaper and having some success when, suddenly, her father shows up and tries to make amends.
Can Jennifer’s father really turn around his life? Can Jennifer rediscover the love she once had for this man?
FLAG DAY is a well-acted independent drama featuring performances by Sean Penn as the father and by Penn’s own daughter, Dylan, as the adult daughter. Addison Tymec and Jaden Rylee also deliver excellent performances as the young and tween-age daughter, respectively. FLAG DAY has some powerful, heartrending emotional moments throughout the story. However, the plot and character situations are not always clear. For example, the father’s criminal activities during Jennifer’s early years aren’t detailed. Eventually, he was charged in 1995 with being one of the biggest counterfeiters in the history of the United States. The movie begins with Jennifer finding out about her father trying to evade the law when the authorities discover his counterfeit activities. Apparently, he learned those skills when he served five years in prison for bank robbery. Also, some of the plot transitions in the movie’s first half are a little awkward.
FLAG DAY is about honoring your father, even though he may be an unreliable, troubled person who squanders his blessings. So, at the end, the daughter seems to find a way to do that, despite the tragedy her father’s life became. Also, the father depicted in the movie seems to love his daughter, even though he keeps failing to find a way to make her proud. So, FLAG DAY ultimately has a somewhat positive worldview, though it’s heavily marred by lots of strong foul language, addiction, abandonment, infidelity, and criminality. MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for FLAG DAY.