En Garde

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Comedy/Romance/, USA, 2009, 30 min.

Synopsis Everybody is enjoying Manny's interest in fencing. It's even easier to enjoy it when Manny is so good at it. Jay couldn't be prouder, especially since he didn't have any trophies Claire or Mitchell won growing up. But everybody's happy, even Claire and Gloria who do a chest bump, which Phil didn't mind at all. However, Mitchell has some issues with everbody being too proud of Manny. Or perhaps it was because Cameron fancies himself the next Martin Scorsese when taking family videos. The wind machine at his nephew's first birthday was a bit much, you have to admit.Phil and Claire are proud of their kids as well. Alex can basically do anything she puts her mind to, such as convincing Haley she can recharge her mobile phone battery by rubbing it on her head to create static. Of course, Haley doesn't have to be smart, since she can use her looks to find a talented person. Luke...well, they dropped the ball on him, they have to admit. But Claire says the one thing Luke is good at is being her son. ("That sounded a lot less lame in my head.") Phil decides that this year, Luke just needs 10,000 hours of baseball practice to become great at it. He has about 6,000 hours from one season of Little League, so he's well on his way. So is the ball Luke threw...on the roof, under the car, past the garage a few dozen times, and a few America's Funniest Home Video specials as well. An hour and a coronary for Phil later, they head back in to the house.Mitchell clearly has some issues with Claire. It goes back to their youth, when they were an ice-skating team.(They were called Fire & Nice. No, seriously.) Right before the regional finals, Claire decides she doesn't want to skate anymore. It was Mitchell's one time to impress his father and Claire bailed on him.MITCHELL: The Regional Championships. Just...the Emerald City at the end of my Yellow Brick Road.CAMERON: You did it. You made figure skating sound even gayer.Cameron decides he won't let Mitchell hold the resentment, since Cameron doesn't want to unwittingly be the target of any bubbled up hostility, such as when Mitchell tells him wearing his yellow shirt makes him look like the sun.There may not be an actual final meet for Manny. He decides he wants to retire, thus ending Jay's hope of a trophy at his house. But Gloria is supportive of his retirement...until Manny tells her that it's because he doesn't want to fence against a girl. ("Dude...") Needless to say, Gloria rips him one for not respecting women, and the match is back on. Jay is especially happy, since he already had t-shirts made that said "Who's the Manny!" They went well with "Haley's Comets" when she ran a 5K a few years back. Claire's "Claire and Present Danger" shirt tops all of them, though.Phil, in real estate, lives by the motto "Always Be Closing." Apparently he saw "Boiler Room" enough times where he completely forgot what happened to all the brokers at the end of the movie. He is showing a house to a couple who think the house isn't very kid-friendly. Then Luke comes in and talks about how great the place is and how much his own house sucks by comparison. Clearly, they found a skill for Luke. So much so, they skip Manny's championship match to try and sell the house to this couple. However, Luke injures himself slipping down a stairwell, and Phil almost twists his ankle getting stuck in the stairs himself. Of course, Luke shouldn't have been running in the house, but he was certain there was a ghost upstairs. So much for that commission.Mitchell finally confronts Claire about ice skating. Well, Cameron tells Claire about it over Mitchell's protests.MITCHELL: OK. I'm still mad. You stole my moment. You still had your moments, like cheerleading, and high school plays, and making out with the quarterback.CLAIRE: You made out with him, too.MITCHELL: Yeah, but we had to keep it a secret.The issue was really that Claire had gotten bigger and Mitchell couldn't lift her anymore. He dropped her a lot in practice. She apologizes, and they hug. And he is still trying to lift her. And he's still unable to do it. They miss the match, but Claire decides that it's more important for Mitchell to be able to lift her. He confesses that he always hated ice skating but still participated because, while it was going on, they didn't hate each other as brother and sister, and Mitchell has missed that. They get into ice-skating poses...on the asphalt. She leaps, and he is actually successful.Manny is ready to destroy Carolyn. But give Carolyn's mom credit for being such a good sport. Except that's her nurse, not her mother. Her nurse down at the childen's hospital. If only Carolyn's dad made it back from Afghanistan to see this. She has a cheering section, who come in on their wheelchairs. Jay and Gloria try to signal Manny to tank the match, but he misinterprets their hand gestures as "show no mercy." And he doesn't. It's a slaughter. Jay and Gloria want to take Carolyn out for ice cream in good sportsmanship, but she's a diabetic. ("Of course she is.") Jay is mortified to be bringing a four-foot trophy to the car, until he sees Mitchell and Claire ice dancing together.JAY: We tell our kids it doesn't matter if they win or lose. But let's be honest. Winning feels pretty great. There's nothing like that golden moment in the sun. I think every parent wants that for their child. I think for ourselves, too. Sometimes we push too hard, and that leads to a lot of resentment and guilt. So how much is too much? Here's how I come out. Guilt fades...hardware lasts forever.The only one suffering is Cameron. Jay threatened to break his camera for taping Manny's onslaught, and he didn't get to participate in the ice skating. Mitchell thanks him by letting Cameron lift him. Then Cameron wants his lift.

Directed by Randall Einhorn  

Starring Ed O'Neill, Sofía Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, more...

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