Modern Family Watch: Manny Get Your Gun

Happy Birthday, Manny! This week, on Modern Family, the clan gathers to eat, and as Manny begins to wax poetic on losing his childhood, each family member is in a funk of their own. Thankfully, we get to the bottom of the melancholy, and witness a few interesting moments along the road.

Phil is preparing for this year’s installment of ‘Family Camp,’ a hopefully fictional gathering of families, presumably all with an equally enthusiastic patriarch. He and Claire bicker over the fastest way to get to the festivities, and part ways to prove the other wrong. Phil’s determined to beat Claire, so that he and the kids can get hold a veritable ‘I told you so’ card when it comes to Claire’s little faith. As Phil and the girls embark on their hero’s journey, they break some bad news. Family camp is a no-go, as far as they’re concerned. As Phil chokes back the tears, the girls in turn feel emotional, and before you know it, it’s a flat out cryfest. Try and fail as he may, Phil really is a great dad. Meanwhile, after Luke declares his allegiance to Phil in what he thought was a split; Claire tries to convince him that she too, is fun. Sure, Claire isn’t a laugh-a-minute riot, but with Phil around, someone needs to be the disciplinarian. Otherwise, Luke would be like Liam, the kid at school who wears pajama pants, and pays with $100 bills.

Jay, Gloria, and Manny can’t seem to get it together and get out of the house. Shockingly, Gloria’s flighty when it comes to organization. She can’t find her keys. Jay gives Manny a bee-bee gun, a gift he admired as a child, and it doesn’t seem age appropriate to Manny. Worry not, Jay says (in a slightly ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ moment,) Manny was ‘born older’ and the gift is perfect! Not as far as Manny’s concerned, and thus, he’s convinced he’s skipped his childhood. In his remaining time left as a child, the kid’s convinced that he’s got a ton of horsing around to fit under his belt, including making awkward prank calls that would make Bart Simpson wince. Meanwhile, Jay finds Gloria’s missing keys in his pocket, and plants them in her purse to conceal the evidence. Poor Manny, really letting this whole childhood thing get to him. He sits, like a lonely old man, on an island float in the pool, and after Gloria figures out the sham Jay tried to pull, she lets them both have it-- her son the old man, and her husband the child. Plus, she shows off her amazing bee-bee gun skills in deflating Manny’s float “You could have shot me! Please, I could have unbuttoned your shirt if I wanted to.”

Cam and Mitchell aimlessly wander the mall, in search of Manny’s gift. Mitchell is moving with purpose, but Cam, thankful to have a nice day off, is going about his usual routine-- befriending strangers and aiding the elderly. He encounters a struggling and nearly breathless old man, trying to convey his feelings with a woman below, and steps in to act as an interpreter, even going off cuff for dramatic emphasis. Unfortunately, Cam digs himself further into his pit of unabashed selflessness, dragging the old woman down the escalator to reunite with her elderly gentleman caller. Cam’s practically bursting at the seams with anticipation of their reconciliation, until he finds out there’s adultery involved. Oh, Cam. Always thinking of others. The two, bickering over spontaneity, wander into a flash mob, and just as Mitchell is hearing a reiteration of Cam’s diatribe about fun, he jumps in, having practiced his moves after work for weeks. The perfect love letter for life of the party Cam, right? Not so fast! He, naturally, is CRUSHED to not have been involved, and equates Mitchell’s commitment to the dance as betrayal.

As each of the families comes to the climax of their arguments this week, they almost literally collide, all arriving at the restaurant simultaneously. Sometimes, when the plotlines on this show intertwine, they soar. This week, however, the storylines felt a little tired. Sure, there were some great moments (Cam’s lip syncing envy during the flash mob, Phil’s ‘If you ain’t white, you ain’t right T-shirt,) but overall, the episode was a bit tired. Cam is fun, while Mitchell is boring. Phil is fun, while Claire is utilitarian. Jay is a curmudgeon, and Gloria is forgetful. Hopefully the writers can get past this rut a little bit, and bring us back to the ‘Fizbo’ hilarity of season one. As per usual, tonight did have a few choice quotes:

“How do I look?”

“Like Al Capone.”

“Thanks!” - Manny and Jay

“Dad, that was a stop sign.”

“I’ll stop twice on the way back.”- Alex and Phil

“What is it? Boys. Bodies changing. Eggs?”- Phil

“You can’t have two fun parents. That’s a carnival”- Claire

“You cheated on me with choreography.”