A Look at Childhood Innocence and Motel Management
By Noah Dauncey
Tasked with writing about summer jobs for this issue, I used my knowledge as an English major to analyze this topic and deconstruct the phrase. I looked at the relationship between “summer” and “jobs,” and found the movie I wished to write about.
Sean Baker’s “The Florida Project” (2017) gives a child’s view of the world. Quite literally, in fact, as the camera is almost always placed about three feet off the ground. From this perspective, adults are usually seen as legs and torsos, and the world is a playground.
The starring children are the definition of care-free. They spend their summer having fun while annoying the manager Bobby, played by Willem Defoe. Bobby spends the film playing the gruff old man who is tough on the outside, but truly cares about the residents of his motel, especially the kids.
The film plays out an unconventional relationship between Bobby and the kids. Though there is a definite relationship between the kids and this old man, the story is not about them. It stays with the kids. But every now and then their antics end up summoning the hotel manager. They are troublemakers, after all.
Bobby’s role as one of the few authoritative figures constantly grounds the movie. As previously mentioned, the kids treat life like a fairy tale, and since they are living in Florida near Disney World in the summer, life pretty much is a fairy tale. They even live at the Magic Castle Inn & Suites! Bobby serves as a constant reminder that life still has consequences, sometimes people get hurt, and if you drip ice cream in his lobby, you will be kicked out.
Willem Defoe nabbed an Oscar nomination for his supporting role. This goes to show how many people recognize the power of his performance. Though Bobby’s job is to be stern and enforce rules, he finds a certain joy, love even, in being there for his residents, and that love is mutual.
He isn’t just painted in this “no fun allowed” image. Bobby is balanced between keeping kids out of trouble and displaying good character development. Defoe explains his methods by saying, “When you play a character, you want to give them depth, you want to give them dimensions…” 
“The Florida Project” is a humanist look at a way of life unknown to many. These people are living paycheck to paycheck, but instead of making it solely a drama about poverty, Sean Baker turns it into a whimsical story with these important themes sticking to the background, subtle yet present.
Even if you plan on spending this upcoming summer at a job like Bobby, remember life is a fairy tale you can experience if you look at it through the eyes of a child.