Let's Talk About the Dad in Pet Sematary


As a parent, I am, perhaps annoyingly, particularly attuned to bad parenting in movies. Whether it’s out and out evil parenting, typical inattentive and/or negligent parenting, or bad parenting decisions made simply for the sake of plot convenience, I find myself making mental notes on the moms and dads I see on screen, usually in terms of what not to do. So, as a Movie Parenting aficionado (self-certified), when I tell you the dad in the original Pet Sematary is one of the worst movie dads ever, I expect you’ll trust my educated opinion. When you watch Pet Sematary (you should not watch Pet Sematary, for the record), the first thing that jumps out at you is Herman Munster’s accent. This is undebatable; the accent should be listed as a character unto itself. But the second thing that makes itself incredibly obvious within the first five minutes of the film is that Dr. Louis Creed (played by Dale Midkiff) is a horrible, HORRIBLE parent. Let’s have a look, chronologically through the timeline of the film, at the twenty biggest mistakes Mr. Creed makes as the events of Pet Sematary unfolds.

(Perhaps it goes without saying but HERE BE SPOILERS.) 

1.)   Buys a house on a very busy street, apparently, without ever having visited the house.
I’m sure Mr. Creed is not the first person to have bought a house without ever actually visiting said house but my guy, you’ve got two small children and a cat. Might want to make sure there’s not a very busy trucker road located fourteen feet from your front door. Also, there’s a path to a pet cemetery on your property. You probably want to know that before you buy.

2.)   Leaves his tiny son all alone right next to said very busy street.
To be fair, this one is at least partially on his wife but still: I get that your daughter is hurt and you need to make sure she’s okay but someone needs to take charge of the tiny toddler because, again, you bought a stupid house and he is at all times no further than fourteen feet away from being crushed by a large truck.

3.)   Has a cat.
Never own a cat in a movie, you guys.

4.)   Talks to his weird neighbor (Jud Crandall).
Never talk to your weird neighbor whether you’re in a movie or real life.

5.)   Allows the creepy housekeeper to come back a second time after the first very creepy encounter.
I’m willing to give the Creeds a pass on the initial hire of the very creepy Ms. Dandridge. They’re new in town and looking for help, it stands to reason that they don’t know she’s a creeper. But one visit is really all it should take to make sure she never comes back again.

6.)   Follows weird neighbor to a cursed burial ground.
Mr. Crandall: “Hey I know I just met you yesterday or something, but I see that your cat is dead. Would you mind following me up in into the mountains while carrying the carcass? We’re gonna walk right on past an actual pet cemetery and I don’t plan on telling you what we’re doing until we actually get to our destination.”
Mr. Creed: “Sure.”

7.)   Actually buries the cat in said cursed burial ground.
Mr. Crandall: “Now that you’ve followed me past the pet cemetery and into the mountains, we’ve arrived at this VERY CLEARLY MARKED cursed burial ground. Time for you to bury your cat here.”
Mr. Creed: “Sure.”

8.)   Doesn’t blanch when the neighbor says they have to keep the cat’s burial a secret.
At this point, I’d understand the impetus to not wanna be really open with what just happened because you’ve made a lot of dumb mistakes in this whole operation and maybe you’d rather just keep that to yourself. But as soon as your weird neighbor starts making a deal about not telling anyone what’s what, that’s when you’ve got to know that you very much DO need to tell someone.

9.)   Accepts the neighbor’s excuse for leading him into this whole mess in the first place.
This fool knew exactly what was going to happen with your formerly dead cat, having experienced the terrifying rebirth of a pet himself, instructed you to follow suit, and you’re just totally cool with his reasoning? Come on, bro!


10.) Doesn’t kill the cat even though it has freaky glowing eyes.
Okay, alright, we’re in this now. You’ve made some bad choices, but you can still salvage something out of this whole thing if you just Old Yeller the cat right away. But instead, this fool just lets the cat stick around and basically haunt the house like it’s no big deal that his eyes are glowing like that.

11.) Basically cops out when his daughter asks him about the afterlife.
You may not have all the answers, and no one will fault you for being vague. But when your daughter asks you about the afterlife, having just attended her first funeral, your answer CANNOT be, “Eh, I dunno.”

12.) Doesn’t freak out when his wife admits to laughing maniacally when her sister died.
This is probably the most disturbing scene in the movie. I know you’re married and stuff and you want to support your spouse. But I gotta be honest, if my wife comes at me with that kind of crazy, I’m at least making some calls and looking for a couch to crash on if nothing else. Instead, good ol’ Louis is just COOL with this information.

13.) Lets his son get hit by a truck.
A couple things here. One, you KNOW this road is apparently destination number one for big rigs so maybe you wanna keep an eye on that. Two, toddlers are slow. You could give my kid a 50-yard head start on a 55-yard race and I’d still smoke him, not even accounting for his life being on the line. All things considered, we may be vacating the territory covered by “negligence” and moving on into “criminal negligence.”

14.) Does not listen to the ghost when he warns him about the cursed burial ground.
You should always listen to and heed the advice of ghosts. Always.

15.) Goes right on ahead and digs up his dead son despite the warnings from a ghost.
We all grieve in different ways and it’s not cool to mock someone’s grief process…unless that grief process involves the exhumation of your recently deceased toddler son despite a ghost very clearly telling you not to do that. Also, WHY IS HE SMILING while digging up his son?! What is happening?!

16.)  Swears to dead son that, “It’s going to be alright.”
Narrator: It was not alright.

17.) Leaves his scalpel just sitting around in his bag where literally anyone can get it.
I have no idea if real surgeons do this or if it’s just a movie thing. Regardless, if you’ve got kids in the house (even if you can’t anticipate the resurrection of your demon toddler although you probably should since that’s exactly what you plotted to bring about), I’m going to suggest not leaving an extremely sharp blade in your bag where any little hands could get ahold of it.


18.) Does not just THROW the murderous zombie baby when he is being attacked.
Babies do not weigh much. Even murderous zombie babies weigh, at most, 30 pounds. Chuck that sucker down the stairs, dude!!! I know he has a scalpel and stuff, but he is a baby! Throw him!

19.) Learns literally nothing from this experience and goes ahead and buries his dead wife in cursed burial ground.
So, let’s get this straight. Your cat came back to life and was essentially the worst version of a cat ever. Then a ghost told you not to re-bury your dead son, but you didn’t listen. Then said dead son kills your wife and your weird neighbor and tried to kill you. Somehow you survived. And to commemorate the occasion, you make the mind-boggling decision to run it back and try it again with your dead wife? Alright, man, you reap what you sow.

20.) Makes out with dead wife.
Just me but I’m super uninterested in making out with my recently dead wife while her eye is hanging out of her head having been, you know, recently murdered by my zombie toddler. But you do you, Louis. You do you.

Fave Five: John Goodman

You know who doesn’t have an Academy Award nomination and who definitely should have at least an Academy Award nomination if not an actual Academy Award? John Goodman. I’m sure if I did an exhaustive search of both memory and my vast assortment of movie-related spreadsheets, I could turn up a big bunch of actors and actresses who should have been nominated for an Oscar by now but haven’t been. But in this very moment, if you asked me who is the best working actor/actress who doesn’t have at least an Oscar nomination on his/her resume, I’d name Goodman and feel good about my answer.

 John Goodman is the best. He’s a heck of actor, by all accounts a great guy, and someone who brings joy to my heart every time he shows up on screen no matter how large or small the role. He’s also one of the original American Treasures that Richard and I came up with before Mad About Movies even began and obviously, I expect this is the achievement of which he is proudest. With Captive State opening this weekend, I looked back at his illustrious career and picked my five favorite movie performances.


5. John Chambers, Argo
This felt like the performance that was most likely to bring an Oscar nomination, though Supporting Actor is always a deep category. I’m not sure there is a better example of Goodman’s inherent likability and pleasantness than what you get with Chambers. The character exudes a much-needed sense of optimism that perfectly balances the inherent hopelessness that exists within the plot.


4. Sully, Monsters Inc. and University
I’m always ready to ride or die for a Pixar movie and Monsters Inc. is one of their best in my estimation. I love how Goodman (and Billy Crystal, too) blends his personality into the on-screen character and I think that’s part of what makes the heart of the movie, Sully and Boo, work so well. Sometimes in animation, the voice is just the voice and the art is just the art and there’s a sense of separation between the two parts. That’s not the case with Goodman and Sully and because of that, I think, you get one of the truly great characters in the Pixar universe.  


3. Gale, Raising Arizona
This was basically my only frame of reference for Goodman for many years, having never watched Roseanne during its first run. I loved Raising Arizona from an early (too early?) age and always found Gale to be hilarious. Now I see the classic Goodman traits all over this character and it’s kind of amazing that he had such a great sense of identity this early in his career.


2. Howard, 10 Cloverfield Lane
Goodman hasn’t dabbled much in on-screen villainy but 10 Cloverfield Lane exemplifies what a great villain he can be when called upon. Howard is creepy, to be sure, but he’s also very caring and he keeps his craziness relegated to his edges so that you’re never quite sure of what you did and did not see; little pockets of anger that burst forth then dance back behind his pleasant-ish façade. I’d wager it’s a much more nuanced performance than you’d get from most actors in his place and his ability to keep both the audience and his on-screen counterparts on unstable ground makes this movie what it is.


1. Walter Sobchak, The Big Lebowski
I could expand this list out to 20 or 30 entries, but the top spot would never be in jeopardy. Goodman fits the Coen’s world so incredibly well, whether it’s in the aforementioned Raising Arizona or a short stint as a stoic passenger in Inside Llewyn Davis but Lebowski is where he truly shines. Walter is a buffoon and an unhinged buffoon at that but with Goodman at the wheel, he’s a thousand times more likable and memorable than he has any right to be. To be sure, the Coens gave him some INCREDIBLE lines to deliver but it is the actual delivery that brings them home and Goodman knocks every single one of his scenes out of the park. As much as I love Jeff Bridges in the lead and admire the work of Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Julianne Moore, and the rest, I think it’s Goodman that holds the movie together and provides the most entertainment.

Brian's Go-To Non-Pixar/Disney Animated Movies

In this, the year of our Lord, 2019, my kid has access to approximately 100 billion TV shows and movies and that’s not even counting the weird stuff happening over on YouTube. My kid, probably like most of your kids or your future hypothetical kids, is brilliant at finding the absolute dumbest, most annoying TV show or movie to watch and then becoming obsessed with it. Did you know there are, like, 47 different Power Rangers shows on Netflix? I didn’t. But now I do. Because my kid is adept at finding them. Do you know what Mini Force is? I didn’t. But now I do. And, guys, I really wish I still didn’t. Did you know that, if you let them, kids will watch the same exact movie not just every single day but multiple times every single day? They’re not like normal humans who watch a movie once and then think, “That was great. I’ll watch that again someday.” No. They think, “That was great. I shall watch it again immediately and then probably again and again and again until the adult in charge of me loses his/her mind.” It’s maddening. There is an overwhelming abundance of choices available to these little monsters and somehow, they never make the right choice.

We watch a lot of movies in my household (duh) and I try to pick my spots as to when to force a movie of my choosing upon my son, in theory so as to broaden his horizons but in reality, so as to keep my brain from becoming Minionized. With both LEGO Movie 2 and How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World dropping this month, I thought I’d have a look at a handful of non-Pixar/Disney animated kid’s movies that are actually good and equally enjoyable for kids and adults alike. These are my go-to “suggestions” (read: “I will give you three options and you can choose which movie you want from those three movies”) for my kid when he’s watched too much Mini Force or tried to trick me into letting him watch Despicable Me 3 for the 400th time this month. You’re welcome, parents and future parents.


Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Series
The first of these movies is definitely better than the second and the second is definitely better than the TV series. But these are favorites of mine in part because the voice talent is substantial (Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Anna Faris, etc.) and in part because Lord and Miller directed the first movie and brought to it the kinds of witty humor you’d expect. The movies differentiate extensively from the book if you’re concerned about that kind of nonsense but they’re vibrant in color and humor.


How to Train Your Dragon Series
I am supremely pumped for the third and final movie in this series and I know my kid is, too, considering he has asked me when it comes out literally every single day for the last month. This series will grow on you quickly if you let it and the themes mature and progress substantially from the first movie to the second. I like the messaging at the core of these movies and the depth of the characters surpasses all but the very best Pixar has to offer.

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The Iron Giant
The reputation of this one precedes itself as it is one of the more popular, better-received animated films of the last 25 years and comes from the brilliant mind of Brad Bird. I confess, this isn’t my favorite animated movie and I think the animation is only so-so. But, the actual Iron Giant himself is AWESOME, Vin Diesel provides the voice (always a plus, obviously), and one time, my son watched this movie four times in one day (thanks a lot, random snow day in Texas) and not only was he entertained, I wasn’t stabbing my eyes out with fork so that probably says a lot about the movie’s quality.

The LEGO Movies
I would hazard to guess that of all the movies on this list, and perhaps all animated movies in general, my son has probably watched The LEGO Movie the most. Combine that with LEGO Batman and LEGO Ninjago and you’ve got yourself a highly entertaining universe with strong messages that is insanely rewatchable. Plus, in a rare win-win for parents and soulless corporations alike, it has proven nearly impossible for my child to watch a LEGO movie without then wanting to play with and build LEGOs. Does this cost me more money? Yeah, it totally does. But is it awesome that he wants to actually play instead of stare at a screen? Yeah, it totally is.


The Lorax
Most Dr. Seuss movies have turned out poorly and, I admit, The Lorax isn’t great, at least in comparison to the best animated kid’s movies on the market. But, for one, I love this book and its central themes. And two, it serves as a good introduction (or re-introduction after the original Grinch) to all things Seuss if your kid hasn’t come around on the books or needs a screen to tell him/her something is cool. The movie looks great, too, with a lot of pop-off-the-screen colors that will keep your kid entertained without them ever noticing that they’re actually absorbing the story’s moral (maniacal laugh).


I had mostly forgotten about Megamind after seeing it in theaters in 2010 until we got HBOGo and it popped up on the kid’s feed. This has a great voice cast, the action moves with great purpose, and there are a ton of jokes for the adults. Plus, it’s kind of nice watching a superhero movie that is disconnected from the MCU or the DCEU.

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Over the Hedge
The caveat on this one is, it’s not an “anytime, all the time” kind of movie. Meaning, it’s not so good that you will want to watch it over and over; you have to pick your spots. This is one I’ll bust out when Cooper INSISTS on an animated movie and we’ve already gone through most of my favorites and allllll of his. I save it for the longest part of summer break or the Christmas holidays, stuff like that. It’s a fun movie with lively animation and a touch of the Minions-type humor that will keep your kid entertained without totally melting his/her brain. Best of all, the soundtrack is all Ben Folds songs and I’m always looking for ways to teach my kid how to rock the suburbs.


Yeah, you read that right. I’m recommending Trolls. Sorry not sorry. I’m not saying it’s Pixar, obviously, but if I have to choose between Despicable Me, another round of PJ Masks, or Power Rangers Ninja Turbo Storm Steel (possibly not a real title but who knows, really) and Trolls, I’m taking Trolls every time. The movie’s got jokes, the story is fun, and the music is super catchy which means you’ll hate yourself three days later when you’re STILL humming “Can’t Stop This Feeling” but your kid will be entertained no matter how many times you watch it and will probably leave you alone for an hour so you can get some work done or, like, lay on the couch and stare off into space.