* = it's never actually mentioned in the movie, but Bastian's full name (from the original book) is Bastian Balthazar Bux. Yikes. Between Mr. Bux's stiff nature and the fact that Bastian's mom was named Moonchild, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that she was the one in charge of picking the baby name.
** = or even a major dad, some might say. #McRaney For Bastian's sake, it's a good thing that of all McRaney's characters, Mr. Bux seems to crib most from the major. I don't think I want to see the "Bastian's dad is George Hearst" cut of this movie.
You sympathize with Bastian, no question. You're broken-hearted yourself. You adored your beloved wife and you miss her every day, and undoubtedly you'd like nothing more than to just hug your son close and mournfully weep together. However, you have to stay strong. One cannot grieve forever, stiff upper lip and all that. You have a job that requires you to wear a suit for work, after all. It doesn't do you or Bastian any good to mourn forever, since life (painfully) goes on.
In the past, you might've treated your son's half-assed approach to his schoolwork a bit more harshly. (You and Moonchild* had a very effective good cop/bad cop routine.) Now, however, you gently sit down with Bastian and explain to him that it does no good to daydream all the time. You tell him he has to keep both feet on the ground, which is good advice that you legitimately believe, though you wish you could find a way to express it in a non-cliche way. Dealing with the emotional stuff was more Moonchild's forte anyway, but it's all on you now, so you do your best to make your point without sounding too harsh. It *mostly* works, though really, would it have killed you to be less dismissive of Bastian's clearly burgeoning and active imagination? And ending the chat with 'good talk' was also not the best move, as those who actually have good talks don't feel the need to punctuate it.
* = and the Oscar for worst sound editing goes to The Neverending Story, as for the life of me, I could never figure out that goddamned name until years later when I could simply look it up online. It was like I was an eight-year-old of Gene Hackman in 'The Conversation' for as many times as I rewound my old Betamax copy of TNS in a vain attempt to make out the mother's name. And really, sound effects editors, between a high-pitched kid's voice and a raging thunderstorm, the storm is going to win every time, so way to drop the ball on raising that vocal track. It gets even worse when you consider that, with a weird-ass name like 'Moonchild,' people are going to be doubly confused even if they heard it correctly. "Wait, did he say Moonchild? That can't be right. Maybe it was Muriel?"
But still, he seems to get the picture. Bastian is a good kid (a great kid), and he's just going through a rough patch. With the matter seemingly settled, you go off to work, have your usual day at…uh, Suit-Wearing Company Inc. when one of two things happen. Firstly, Bastian's school could call you to inform you that he never arrived at school that day. One would think that with Bastian's recent issues, the school would be extra-aware of any truancy or perhaps Bastian could even be on a 'last straw' policy. (Then again, this is also a school with an enormous and poorly-supervised gothic attic, so who knows.) Just think of how upset you'd be getting this kind of call. Your good talk was all for naught!
Or, conversely, the school never calls and when you arrive back home after a long day of wearing a suit, Bastian simply never gets back. It's essentially the nightmare scenario for any parent. Think of the worry, of the increasing terror, the calls to the school and then eventually to the police or to hospitals. There could be a citywide search going on for Bastian all evening long during that driving storm, while he was just holed up in the creepy attic reading his book.
As for you, you're increasingly wracked with guilt. Was it YOUR talk with Bastian that triggered his possible running-away from home? But you were only trying to help! Oh, if only Moonchild would've been around…curse you, universe, for taking her away from us! And things get even worse the next morning, as police inform you that they're having to take officers off the search due to an unexpected and bizarre crisis (namely a giant furry creature flying around downtown and chasing local bullies). The incident is so peculiar that, while you're upset that your son's disappearance isn't being more closely monitored, you can't really blame the cops for reacting to an attack of a heretofore unknown and seemingly dangerous animal.
The point is, it was a really rough day for Mr. Bux. It's weird going back and watching this movie as an adult, and finding yourself sympathizing with (of all people) Bastian's dad most of all. It could be due to overly-keeping my feet on the ground throughout life, but that can't be it; as you can tell from my blogging, my imagination is full of crazy nonsense. I'd consider it a personal dream of mine to one day fly around on the back of a genial Luck Dragon through downtown New York, except instead of chasing bullies, I'd tell Falcor to go after Tom Coughlin since I'm still bitter about those Packers playoff losses.