Stuart Saves His Family

Good news. My very own copy of Stuart Saves His Family has been shipped.

Everyone has important works of art that reference their life. Jim Hines’ Goldfish Dreams is one of those for me, as is Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit. And then, there’s Stuart Saves His Family, which doesn’t seem to fit with the more literary works I’ve mentioned.

In the early 90s, my then roommate Steve introduced me to Stuart Smalley and his family. I’m not a Al Franken fan, or an avid Saturday Night Viewer, but it didn’t take me long to recognize Stuart’s family as my family.

I’m Stuart, of course. My older brother is Donnie. When Donnie utters, “As soon as I get a job, I’m out of here” while he’s freebasing, I explode into hysterical laughter. Jodie is my younger brother Ken, who is away from the family, but can’t quite get his head around change. Of course, Mom’s a classic co-dependent, and Dad’s a classic alcoholic. My parents interchanged these roles, but yeah, I recognize that dynamic.

Harold Ramis is under-appreciated as both a comic writer and a director. He directs the film with great pacing and pathos. People who come from dysfunction find the film both poignant and hilarious.

When my past gets me down, I remember students’ real family, his support group and counselors, knocking on his door. “Stuart, you’re in a shame spiral, buddy.” And in the end, when it was finally decided that I couldn’t save my family either, I moved on to my real family.

Because, as Stuart says, “No one parties like people in recovery,” I’ll be holding my second “family” reunion the third Saturday in July this year.

Stuart shows us how recovery is done. I’m looking forward to finally having my own copy. For years, the DVD was an elaborate, out of print expense, but with the advent of NetFlix and Red Box, many stores are clearing out their inventory, and I have my chance.

Do you have movies or books that speak to you especially? I’d love to hear about them.


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

One thought on “Stuart Saves His Family”

  1. I’ve never seen this movie, but now I think I’d like to. One book which speaks to me especially is Dorothy Gilman’s sadly out of print memoir, A New Kind of Country. It’s about her decision to leave suburban New Jersey as a middle aged divorcee, and spend some time living alone in Nova Scotia. I love it because it’s brave and honest about spending time alone, and getting to know oneself.

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